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. A section 7 consultation with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers on a proposed wood chip mill on the Tennessee River is under way.
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 Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was provided $59,500 to study freshwater mussels, including research on artificial propagation, surveying Tennessee River tributaries, and research on mussel reintroduction.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA): This Federal agency is responsible for ensuring that its projects do not jeopardize federally listed mussels. TVA has also been an advocate for mussel recovery. The agency conducts mussel surveys as part of its environmental review of proposed projects and maintains a geographic data base on mussel distribution. It is also developing mussel propagation technology, and has conducted a bioassay of various chemicals using juvenile mussels. TVA is also involved in efforts to restore the little-wing pearly mussel in Kentucky and North Carolina.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: This State agency is responsible for managing the State's mussel populations and an extensive mussel fishery, conducting mussel surveys, and maintaining a geographic data base on mussel distribution. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency recently implemented new size regulations to reduce the take of immature mussels and also monitors the catch of commercial mussel fishermen to reduce take of federally listed mussels. The agency also has designated nine mussel sanctuaries to protect State and federally protected mussels.
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation: Through a natural history data base, this State agency provides valuable information on the distribution of federally listed mussels. It also helps protect these species through its environmental review process.
Aquatic Resource Center: This private organization is developing techniques for artificially propagating freshwater mussels and feeding the resulting juvenile mussels.
Plan approved 9/22/89.