Chipola slabshell

Chipola slabshell

Chipola slabshell

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Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Elliptio chipolaensis

The Chipola Slabshell is a part of the phylum: Mollusca and the class: Bivalvia. This species has suffered a large decrease with upwards of 75% of habitat lost. It is now confined to only a few remnant sites in small drainage from the Chipola river. The federal ESA protects it as a designated threatened species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.

Appearance

The Chipola Slabshell is a freshwater mussel that is oval shaped with a reddish-brown outer shell. They can have dark and light bands on the outer shell and the inside of the shell is reddish-yellow. They can reach a length of up to 8.5 cm (3.3 in). There is no sexual dimorphism shown in the characteristic of the shells.

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Countries
Biogeographical realms

Specifically found in northwest Florida in the Chipola river. They inhabit freshwater rivers with slow to medium currents and rest in a sandy or silt floor. Many are found in sloping bank habitats as well.

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In Florida their range is said to be 100-1000 square km. They were found in Georgia and Alabama but seems to be now extinct there.

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Habits and Lifestyle

They are not colonial breeders (reproduce in a controlled way) and they are non-migrators. They are fixed in one place besides the voluntary movement of burrowing into the substrate. Passive movement occurs when high flows of water push them downstream. In the larval stage, they exhibit parasitic behaviors by attachment to host fish before going through metamorphosis and fall to the ground.

Diet and Nutrition

In their immature life stage, they are considered parasitic and retrieve their nutrients from a host fish. In their mature life stage, they use filter feeding for plankton and detritus (dead organic matter).

Population

Population threats

Pollution, construction, and an increase in human population are threats. The biggest threat is taking freshwater for drinking, flood control, and waterpower. Decreasing the speed of water leads to dirt buildup which covers the mussels. It also divides populations of mussels, host fish, such as Bluegill and Redbreast Sunfish, and algae.

Recovery Plan

The first step is to secure the existing subpopulations of Slabshells and their habitats. This is the most important step due to their current decline numbers and the continuous threats to their habitats. To do this the threats need to be reduced and prevented, which can be done through regulatory mechanisms, partnerships with stakeholders, and habitat restoration programs. The recovery plan's second stage aims to expand the range of available subpopulations and available habitats. Given the current knowledge of these seven species, conservationists have calculated the number of individuals and stream miles required for down listing and delisting.  Increases can be achieved in one of two ways: either by discovering a previously unknown subpopulation or by intentionally reestablishing a new subpopulation. Reestablishing new subpopulations will necessitate close collaboration and agreement from the state(s) concerned, as well as any stakeholders having a stake in any possible reintroduction sites. Due to low numbers, it is most likely required that the new subpopulation will be laboratory- or hatchery-reared. The priorities for recovery using propagation include developing the propagation technology, increase and expand the ranges of current subpopulations to ensure their ability to thrive, and then reestablishing populations into other streams that fall within their historical range. The fourth step is to monitor the populations and habitats to measure and ensure their recovery. The recovery plan's fifth stage is to educate the public on the importance of freshwater mussels and their ecosystems. Beyond the attempts to build conservation partnerships with major stakeholders as part of achieving the first and second objectives, the fifth objective entails engaging the public. Mussels are affected directly and indirectly by human land and water usage throughout the entire watershed. Informing the public about watershed conservation in general, and the importance of mussels in their environment in particular will go a long way toward helping them recover. The last step is to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan’s implementation because there is still so much unknown about this mussel, and it is believed that it will take more than 15 years for recovery to be accomplished.

References

1. Chipola slabshell Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipola_slabshell
2. Chipola slabshell on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/7640/12838489

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