What's New?

Page last updated
21 August 2013

What's New with the MUSSELp?

The highlights of 2013.


Summer 2013 -- Busy months for the MUSSELp. The warm daze of summer are often the busiest time for the MUSSEL Project. The holiday from teaching responsibilities and the availability of warm, ice-free waters is a recipe for productivity. The following summarizes some of the important MUSSELp events of the Summer of 2013.

The Illinois contingent has been getting some love from the local press this summer. One story focused on our translocation of hundreds of federally endangered mussels Pleurobema clava (clubshell) and Epioblasma rangina (northern riffleshell) from the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania to sites on the Middle Fork and Salt Fork of the Vermilion River, in Illinois. Pennsylvania officials were needing to relocate a large population of riffleshell and clubshell mussels from a part of the Allegheny River beneath an bridge that will be demolished and replaced in the next few years. We affixed Passive Integrative Transponders or PIT tags to each mussel to track their whereabouts and survival. We are heading out next week to translocate more mussels from the Allegheny to Illinois. Here is a blog post about the same event.

The second story was about our rediscovery of Leptodea lepton (scaleshell) in Illinois. A species not seen in the state in over 100 years! Scientists from various state and federal agencies got a unique opportunity to check on the status of mussels in the upper Illinois River in May of this year when the water level was lowered for inspection and repair of a dam on the Illinois River at Marseilles. In the course of two days, the census and salvage operation collected nearly 15,000 live specimens and ONE Leptodea leptodon. The identification was later confirmed with DNA analysis conducted by friend of the MusselP, Kevin Roe of Iowa State University.

In early August, the UWSP and INHS wings gathered in Cordova, Illinois to give the zebra mussels threatening our local unionids the what-for. Dozens of volunteers from around the Upper Midwest came out to pollywog for freshwater mussels and scrape off any attached invaders.

In addition to field work this summer, we did a major MUSSELp database overhaul, combing through taxonomic records and updating our taxonomic and geographic tallies of species. Check out the Unionoida cum Grano Salis pages to see the latest.

Master of Science and former MUSSELp grad student John Pfeiffer had his first publication this summer, "Re-analysis confirms the polyphyly of Lamprotula Simpson, 1900 (Bivalvia: Unionidae)." We look forward to hearing more from him about the evolutionary history of freshwater mussels!

Finally, the Mussel of the Month -- our unci-annual genus-crawl through the diversity of freshwater mussels -- celebrated its 10th anniversary! 120 installments of MotM! Whoo! To celebrate, we made a poster.

The MUSSELp Crew pollywogging the Mississippi River at Cordova, Illinois.


26 April 2013 -- UWSP COLS Undergraduate Search Symposium. Ryan Pappas, Caitlin Luebke, and Charlie Jordan presented two posters at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Letters and Science Undergraduate Research Symposium. Since January, these students have been contributing to various projects dealing with freshwater mussels, and the poster session provided an excellent opportunity to present some of their results to-date.

Ryan's poster, "A preliminary study of the biogeography of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in Wisconsin, USA," synthesized the current state of knowledge on the distributions of freshwater mussel species in the state. This work will serve as a baseline for future student research on Wisconsin freshwater mussels. Caitlin's poster provided a status report for an on-going project to help work up specimens at the Smithsonian NMHN, "Curation of the Daniel J. Bereza Collection of freshwater mollusks at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Phase I." Charlie has been working on data capture for mussel localities in SE Asia and Wisconsin. It has been a productive Spring Term for student research in the Graf Lab at UWSP.

Ryan Pappas, Caitlin Luebke, and Charlie Jordan posing with one of the UWSP Mussel Group posters presented at the 2013 College of Letters and Science Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Ryan Pappas, Caitlin Luebke, and Charlie Jordan posing with one of the UWSP Mussel Group posters presented at the 2013 College of Letters and Science Undergraduate Research Symposium.


5-13 March 2013 -- MUSSELp Presents at Multiple Meetings. Recent participation by the KSC Mussel folks included presentations at 51st Annual Meeting of the Illinois Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center, Illinois. 5-7 March 2013.

  • Diane Shasteen, Sarah Bales, and Diane Shasteen: Reestablishing mussel Species in Greatest Need of Conservation in Illinois streams (Talk).
  • Alison Price Stodola, Sarah Bales, and Diane Shasteen: Still clamoring for answers – our continued investigation of Illinois mussel communities. (Poster).

Also at that meeting Jeremy Tiemann was presented with his award for the Best Poster Award at the 50th Annual Meeting held at Starved Rock State Park in 2012. This continued a trend for the KSC mussel folks as they garnered awards at the 2011 Illinois AFS Meeting for best professional paper (Alison Price Stodola) and best poster (Diane Shasteen). Keeping the string alive!

The MUSSELp was represented by two talks at the 2013 symposium of the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society in Guntersville, Alabama, 10-14 March 2013.

  • Jeremy Tiemann, Robert Szafoni, Joseph Kath, & KSC: Reintroduction of the Federally Endangered Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana) and Clubshell (Pleurobema clava) in Illinois.
  • John Pfeiffer & DLG Evolution of Asymmetrical Larvae in Freshwater Mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae).


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