Mussel of the

Page last updated
6 November 2008

Mussel of the Month

The November 2008 Mussel of the Month is Chambardia wahlbergi. Chambardia is a genus of 11 species known from the Delta to the Cape in Africa.

Chambardia wahlbergi
USNM 341223. Kafue River, Zambia.

Chambardia wahlbergi, if the going taxonomy is correct, is one of the most widespread freshwater mussel species in Africa, occurring from the Nile River in Egypt, through East Africa to the Zambezi, and south. Oh... and it is in West Africa as well. Various subspecies are currently recognized (e.g., Mandahl-Barth, 1988; Daget, 1998) across this expansive range. Unfortunately, the taxonomy is a mess, and where we have looked closely, we have found that C. wahlbergi is "lumped."

For example, in the Angola Region, we pulled two species, Ch. welwitschi and Ch. moutai, out of Ch. wahlbergi (Graf & Cummings, 2006). And, we found Aspatharia marnoi buried in Ch. wahlbergi in the Nile (Graf & Cummings, 2007). We expect that as we keep looking, we will keep finding distinctive lineages lurking within this over-lumped species.

This last September in Zambia, we managed to secure some specimens of Chambardia wahlbergi from fisheries ponds. The picture below shows Anthony Geneva up to his knees in mud, tilapia and mussels.

Anthony Geneva, Chambardia wahlbergi and a toy cat.


Phylum Mollusca
Class Bivalvia
Subclass Palaeoheterodonta
Order Unionoida

Superfamily ETHERIOIDEA Deshayes, 1830

Family IRIDINIDAE Swainson, 1840
Subfamily ASPATHARIINAE Modell, 1942

Genus Chambardia Servain, 1890
[+ Spathopsis Simpson, 1900]

Species Chambardia wahlbergi (Krauss, 1848)

For more information about Chambardia wahlbergi, check out:
  • Mandahl-Barth, G. 1988. Studies on African freshwater bivalves. Danish Bilharziasis Laboratory, Charlottenlund, Denmark. 161 pp.
  • Daget, J. 1998. Catalogue raisonnĂ© des Mollusques bivalves d’eau douce africans. Backhuys Publishers, The Netherlands. 329 pp.
  • Graf, D.L. & K.S. Cummings. 2006. Freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionoida) of Angola, with description of a new species, Mutela wistarmorrisi. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia of Philadelphia 155: 163-194.
  • Graf, D.L. & K.S. Cummings. 2007. Preliminary review of the freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionoida) of northern Africa, with an emphasis on the Nile. Journal of the Egyptian German Society of Zoology 53D: 89-118.
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