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New Mussel Species for Alabama
Lake Pigtoe is a New Mussel Species for Alabama
On June 20, 2008, two specimens of lake pigtoe (Fusconaia flava) were collected from upper reaches of Pickwick Reservoir in Colbert County, Alabama. This is the first record of the species from Alabama. The lake pigtoe is native to portions of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, including lower reaches of the Tennessee River (Kentucky Reservoir).
The two individuals collected from Pickwick Reservoir were approximately five years old and were presumably transported from lower reaches of the Tennessee River by natural means. Freshwater mussels have a unique life cycle in which their larvae must attach to another animal, usually the gill of a fish. The immature mussel is a parasite during this stage. This strategy of living with a fish is believed to serve as a means of dispersal for these sedentary (slow moving, bottom-living) species. It appears that colonization of Pickwick Reservoir by the lake pigtoe is one example of its effectiveness.
The addition of this species to the list of Alabama mussels brings the total number of mussel species in Alabama to 179, more than any other state in the United States or in a similarly-sized area in the world.