Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The little-wing pearly mussel faces water quality degradation resulting from industrial and sewage effluents and the runoff of silt and other water pollutants from poorly designed construction, development, mining, agricultural, and forestry activities. Further, the spread of the exotic zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) represents a potential threat to the survival of this species. Zebra mussels outcompete native mussel fauna, and infestations in the water column can physically disrupt normal breeding and feeding behavior.
Although little measurable progress has been made in establishing new mussel populations or in stabilizing existing populations, substantial recovery efforts for all the State's federally listed mussels are under way. Research is continuing on maintaining captive mussel populations, mussel cryopreservation, and potential impacts of the exotic zebra mussel on native mussels.
Recovery of the little-wing pearly mussel will require additional research to develop new propagation techniques, reintroduction into unoccupied historical habitat, and determination of the factors that are causing declines in the wild. Also, technology is needed for cryopreservation of freshwater mussel genetic material.
In both FY 1991 and FY 1992, the State of Kentucky received $15,120 to evaluate the impact of commercial mussel fishing on federally listed mussels in the State. In FY 1992, the State also received $7,500 to conduct a status survey on listed mussels.
Forest Service: This Federal agency is working with The Nature Conservancy to purchase private lands within the boundaries of the Daniel Boone National Forest in the Horse Lick Creek watershed to protect the little-wing pearly mussel. The Forest Service has also collected information on the distribution of, and threats to, federally-listed mussels within this watershed.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources: This State agency is responsible for managing the State's mussel populations, managing an extensive commercial mussel fishery, maintaining a geographic data base on mussel distribution, and designating mussel sanctuaries to protect State and federally listed mussels.
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission: The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, another State agency, is responsible for maintaining a geographic data base on the distribution of mussels. It also purchases and protects important mussel sites and conducts surveys to identify the distribution and abundance of native mussels. By maintaining a natural history data base, the Commission provides valuable information on federally listed mussels, and through its environmental review process and site surveys it helps protect these species.
The Nature Conservancy: This private organization has an active land protection program in the Horse Lick Creek watershed for protecting the little-wing pearly mussel, and has funded a project to survey the mussel fauna of this system.
Plan approved 9/22/89.