The snuffbox mussel is found from western New York and souther Ontario, west to Wisconsin, Iowa and eastern Nebraska, south to Oklahoma, and east to northern Alabama. Within this range it is found in Tennessee, West Virginia, and the Ohio River drainage.
In Michigan this species is found in southeastern Michigan rivers of the Lake Erie drainage, except for the Raisin River. In western Michigan it was historically found in parts of the St. Joseph (Michigan) and Muskegon Rivers. One shell was collected from the Kalamazoo River, although a live individual has not been found. Recent populations have been found in the Grand River. Other museum specimens were collected from the Cass and Chippewa Rivers in the 1930s. (Burch, 1975; Carman and Goforth, 2000; van der Schalie, 1938)
In Michigan, Percina caprodes reproduces in both rivers and lakes, and populations of have been also been found in lakes. However, the invasion of the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha, has decimated most lake populations of the snuffbox in southeastern Michigan. (Sherman, 1994; van der Schalie, 1938)is found in small- to medium-sized rivers, 7 to 23 m wide. In the southeastern part of Michigan, it is more common in streams between lakes. Its fish host, the logperch,
- Habitat Regions
- Aquatic Biomes
- rivers and streams
The snuffbox is up to 6.4 cm (2.5 inches) long , and is triangular or elongated in shape. The shell is uniformly solid, and inflated. The anterior end is rounded. Males have a truncated posterior end and females have a more expanded posterior end. The dorsal and ventral margins are straight to slightly curved. Females in general are smaller and can be distinguished from males by the ribs and teeth-like sculpture at the posterior end.
Umbos are broad and slightly raised above the hinge line. The beak sculpture is has three to four double-looped bars, although these may be worn and faint.
The periostracum (outer shell layer) is smooth, yellow to yellow-green. The shells also have dark green rays with blotches or chevron markings.
On the inner shell, the left valve has two pseudocardinal teeth, which are high, thin and triangular. The two lateral teeth are short, slightly curved, and slightly striated. The right valve has one high, triangular, thin, triangular pseudocardinal tooth. The one right lateral tooth is short, slightly curved and slightly striated.
The beak cavity is moderately to fairly deep. Although the nacre is white and iridescent at the posterior end.
In Michigan, this species can be confused with the slippershell, and deertoe. The snuffbox is generally smaller, and females are tooth-like at the posterior end. Slippershells are smaller (therefore growth lines are closer together) and lack the black blotches and chevrons. The deertoe is generally larger than the snuffbox and is more rounded in shape. (Cummings and Mayer, 1992; Oesch, 1984; Watters, 1995)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes shaped differently
- Range length
- 6.4 (high) cm
- 2.52 (high) in
Fertilized eggs are brooded in the marsupia (water tubes) up to 11 months, where they develop into larvae, called glochidia. The glochidia are then released into the water where they must attach to the gill filaments and/or general body surface of the host fish. After attachment, epithelial tissue from the host fish grows over and encapsulates a glochidium, usually within a few hours. The glochidia then metamorphoses into a juvenile mussel within a few days or weeks. After metamorphosis, the juvenile is sloughed off as a free-living organism. Juveniles are found in the substrate where they develop into adults. (Arey, 1921; Lefevre and Curtis, 1910)
- Development - Life Cycle
Age to sexual maturity for this species is unknown. Unionids are gonochoristic (sexes are separate) and viviparous. The glochidia, which are the larval stage of the mussels, are released live from the female after they are fully developed.
In general, gametogenesis in unionids is initiated by increasing water temperatures. In Michigan, reproduction of probably occurs from mid-July to August when water temperatures are from 21 to 27 degrees C. The general life cycle of a unionid, includes open fertilization. Males release sperm into the water, which is taken in by the females through their respiratory current. The eggs are internally fertilized in the suprabranchial chambers, then pass into water tubes of the gills, where they develop into larvae, called glochidia. (Lefevre and Curtis, 1912; Sherman, 1994; Watters, 1995)
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- The snuffbox mussel breeds once in the warmer months of the year.
- Breeding season
- In Michigan, the breeding season is mid-July to August.
- Average gestation period
- 10 months
Females brood fertilized eggs in their marsupial pouch. The fertilized eggs develop into glochidia. There is no parental investment after the female releases the glochidia.
- Parental Investment
The age of mussels can be determined by looking at annual rings on the shell. Demographic data in Michigan for this species suggest they may live from 14-20 years.
Mussels in general are rather sedentary, although they may move in response to changing water levels and conditions. Although not thoroughly documented, the mussels may vertically migrate to release glochidia and spawn. Often they are found buried under the substrate.
Communication and Perception
The middle lobe of the mantle edge has most of a bivalve's sensory organs. Paired statocysts, which are fluid filled chambers with a solid granule or pellet (a statolity) are in the mussel's foot. The statocysts help the mussel with georeception, or orientation.
Mussels are heterothermic, and therefore are sensitive and responsive to temperature.
Unionids in general may have some form of chemical reception to recognize fish hosts. Mantle flaps in the lampsilines are modified to attract potential fish hosts. How the spike attracts its fish host is unknown.
- Communication Channels
In general, unionids are filter feeders. The mussels use cilia to pump water into the incurrent siphon where food is caught in a mucus lining in the demibranchs. Particles are sorted by the labial palps and then directed to the mouth. Mussels have been cultured on algae, but they may also ingest bacteria, protozoans and other organic particles.
The parasitic glochidial stage absorbs blood and nutrients from hosts after attachment. Mantle cells within the glochidia feed off of the host’s tissue through phagocytocis. (Meglitsch and Schram, 1991; Watters, 1995)
- Plant Foods
- Other Foods
- Foraging Behavior
Unionids in general are preyed upon by muskrats, raccoons, minks, otters, and some birds. Juveniles are probably also fed upon by freshwater drum, sheepshead, lake sturgeon, spotted suckers, redhorses, and pumpkinseeds.
Unionid mortality and reproduction is affected by unionicolid mites and monogenic trematodes feeding on gill and mantle tissue. Parasitic chironomid larvae may destroy up to half the mussel gill. (Cummings and Mayer, 1992; Watters, 1995)
- Known Predators
- muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
- mink, Neovison vison
- raccoon Procyon lotor
- otter, Lontra canadensis
- turtles, Testudines
- hellbenders, Cryptobranchus
- freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens
- sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus
- lake sturgeon, Acipenser fulvescens
- shortnosed sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum
- spotted suckers, Minytrema melanops
- common red-horse, Moxostoma
- catfish, Siluriformes
- pumpkinseed, Lepomis gibbosus
Fish hosts are determined by looking at both lab transformations and natural infestations. Looking at both is necessary, as lab transformations from glochidia to juvenile may occur, but the mussel may not actually infect a particular species in a natural situation. Natural infestations may also be found, but glochidia will attach to almost any fish, including those that are not suitable hosts. Lab transformations involve isolating one particular fish species and introducing glochidia either into the fish tank or directly inoculating the fish gills with glochidia. Tanks are monitored and if juveniles are later found the fish species is considered a suitable host.
In lab trials, logperch, the black-sided darter, the Ozark sculpin, the banded sculpin, and the black spotted topminnow. The logperch is likely its main host species, given the distribution and numbers of glochidia that successfully transform on the logperch. (Barnhart, et al., 1998; Hill, 1986; Sherman, 1994)metamorphosed on the
- Ecosystem Impact
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Mussels are ecological indicators. Their presence in a water body usually indicates good water quality.
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no significant negative impacts of mussels on humans.
Renee Sherman Mulcrone (author).
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
an organism that obtains nutrients from other organisms in a harmful way that doesn't cause immediate death
photosynthetic or plant constituent of plankton; mainly unicellular algae. (Compare to zooplankton.)
an animal that mainly eats plankton
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
Arey, L. 1921. An experimental study on glochidia and the factors underlying encystment. J. Exp. Zool., 33: 463-499.
Barnhart, C., F. Riusech, M. Baird. 1998. Hosts of salamander mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua) and snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra) from the Meramec River system, Missouri.. Triannual Unionid Report, 16: 34.
Barnhart, C., B. Roston. 2005. Host infection strategy of the snuffbox mussel, Epioblasma triquetra. Fourth biennial symposium, Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, May 15-18, 2005, St. Paul, Minnesota: 43. Accessed October 04, 2005 at http://ellipse.inhs.uiuc.edu/FMCS/Symposium/FMCS2005ProgramandAbstracts04-26-2005.pdf.
Brusca, R., G. Brusca. 2003. Invertebrates. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, Inc..
Burch, J. 1975. Freshwater unionacean clams (Mollusca: Pelecypoda) of North America. Hamburg, Michigan: Malacological Publications.
Carman, S., R. Goforth. 2000. Special animal abstract for Epioblasma triquetra (snuffbox). Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Accessed October 10, 2005 at http://web4.msue.msu.edu/mnfi/abstracts/aquatics/Epioblasma_triquetra.pdf.
Cummings, K., C. Mayer. 1992. Field guide to freshwater mussels of the Midwest. Champaign, Illinois: Illinois Natural History Survey Manual 5. Accessed August 25, 2005 at http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/cbd/collections/mollusk/fieldguide.html.
Environment Canada, 2003. "Species At Risk" (On-line). Accessed September 21, 2005 at http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/default_e.cfm.
Hill, D. 1986. Cumberlandian Mollusks Conservation Program, activity 3: Identification of fish hosts. Knoxville: Office of Natural Resources and Economic Development, Tennessee Valley Authority.
Hove, M. 2004. "Links to each state's listed freshwater mussels, invertebrates, or fauna" (On-line). Accessed September 21, 2005 at http://www.fw.umn.edu/Personnel/staff/Hove/State.TE.mussels.
Lefevre, G., W. Curtis. 1912. Experiments in the artificial propagation of fresh-water mussels. Proc. Internat. Fishery Congress, Washington. Bull. Bur. Fisheries, 28: 617-626.
Lefevre, G., W. Curtis. 1910. Reproduction and parasitism in the Unionidae. J. Expt. Biol., 9: 79-115.
Meglitsch, P., F. Schram. 1991. Invertebrate Zoology, Third Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Oesch, R. 1984. Missouri naiades, a guide to the mussels of Missouri. Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri Department of Conservation.
Sherman, R. 1994. Life history information critical to the management of the state endangered snuffbox mussel, Epioblasma triquetra (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan.
Watters, G. 1995. A guide to the freshwater mussels of Ohio. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
van der Schalie, H. 1938. The naiad fauna of the Huron River, in southeastern Michigan. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 40: 1-83.