Unique mussel that relies on mudpuppy salamanders proposed as endangered
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to list a unique mussel native to Indiana as a federally endangered species. The salamander mussel is already a state species of special concern.
It’s the only mussel in North America whose larvae survives on the gills of a mudpuppy salamander. Most freshwater mussels use fish as hosts.
Water pollution, dams, landscape changes, invasive species and risks to the mudpuppy have all caused the salamander mussel’s populations to decline.
Freshwater mussels are very sensitive to water quality changes. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, nearly half of all freshwater mussels in Indiana are either endangered, a species of special concern, or can no longer be found in the state.
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The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed protecting more than 2,000 river miles as critical habitat for the species — including parts of Fish Creek, Big Pine Creek, Middle Fork Wildcat Creek and the Tippecanoe River in Indiana.
The public has until Oct. 23 to comment on the proposed listing.