Guide to the Identification and Distribution of Freshwater Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in Mississippi

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)
Published Oct. 12, 2021

Mississippi has 84 described species of freshwater mussels (family Unionidae) which are found throughout the state (Fig. 1), and perhaps one or more undescribed species as well. Jones et al. (2005) presented information on the status and distribution of freshwater mussels (sometimes called unionids or naiads) in Mississippi, but the taxonomy of this group has undergone substantial changes since then, including the resurrection of older generic names, the description of new taxa, and a re-evaluation of the status and distributions of several species. This document is both an update and an expansion of the information about freshwater mussels contained in that earlier publication. It consists of general information on the biology of freshwater mussels followed by individual accounts for each species found in the state with details on identification, life history, and distribution in Mississippi. Much of the information on freshwater mussel biology, morphology, and the economic and ecological value of unionids in this document is from a poster on freshwater mussels issued by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) in 2010. The sections on river drainages and the conservation status of mussels in Mississippi are in part from the 2005 publication. Much of the information in the species accounts is based on data from specimens in the MDWFP collection housed in the Museum of Natural Science (MMNS) in Jackson, Mississippi. Additional data is based on records compiled by the United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center Environmental Laboratory – Aquatic Ecology and Invasive Species Branch (USACE) in Vicksburg and from other sources as indicated.

There are a variety of publications dealing with the mussel faunas of various states, including Mississippi’s bordering states of Louisiana (Vidrine, 1993), Tennessee
(Parmalee and Bogan, 1998), and Alabama (Williams et al., 2008). Several of these publications deal with subjects that we do not cover here, including descriptions of the internal anatomy of various species, descriptions of larval mussels, and partial to relatively complete synonymies. We would direct those interested in these topics to the publications listed above, particularly to Williams.

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