Evaluate Propagation Efforts and Determine Dispersal Patterns for Quadrula fragosa from Tagged, Artificially Infested Host Fish (Ictalurus punctatus) in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (SACN)

Science Center Objects

The Winged Mapleleaf mussel (Quadrula fragosa) is only known to inhabit five locations in the U.S., and the population in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is isolated both physically and genetically from the other populations. In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued Reasonable and Prudent Measures, which required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to establish populations of the Winged Mapleleaf mussel in areas with no or few Zebra Mussels, including the SACN, and implement a Zebra Mussel control program. An interagency team, including federal, state resource agencies and universities, has been tasked with the implementation of producing juvenile Winged Mapleleaf mussels through artificial propagation. 

Juvenile Winged Mapleleaf

Juvenile Winged Mapleleaf. Note the glochidial shell on top of the juvenile shell.

(Credit: Mark Hove, University of Minnesota. Public domain.)

The overall goal of this project is to improve Q. fragosa conservation efforts in the SACN. Propagation efforts of the Winged Mapleleaf mussel have had limited success; however, assessing the importance of the overwintering period or habitat use of the Winged Mapleleaf mussel’s host fish, the Channel Catfish, could provide information that improves the propagation efforts. An evaluation of past propagation efforts and the movement pattern of tagged, artificially infested host fish are needed to inform future conservation action for this endangered species. To accomplish this, there are three main objectives:

  1. Compile historical data from over 14 years of Q. fragosa propagation efforts into a searchable database to identify potential knowledge gaps that may be limiting its success
  2. Explore in situ and ex situ propagation techniques to optimize production of Q. fragosa juveniles.
  3. Characterize host fish movements by tracking the movement of tagged Channel Catfish that are inoculated with the SACN strain of Q. fragosa and focusing on the importance of the overwintering habitats and locations during the juvenile release period.
Winged Mapleleaf conglutinates

 Conglutinates collected from a St. Croix River Winged Mapleleaf.

(Credit: Mark Hove, University of Minnesota. Public domain.)