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 littlewing 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 FY 1992, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission was provided $5,000 to conduct surveys and monitor the little-wing pearly mussel, as well as the State's other federally listed mussels.
Forest Service: This Federal agency has funded a study of mussel distribution in the Little Tennessee River, which is inhabited by the little-wing pearly mussel.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission: This State agency is responsible for managing the State's mussel populations and helps protect listed species through an environmental review process and site surveys. The agency published proceedings of a symposium on North Carolina's endangered mollusks, including the little-wing pearly mussel.
North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources: Through maintenance of a natural history data base, this State agency provides valuable information on the distribution of federally listed mussels.
Plan approved 9/22/89.