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Quadrula fragosa

What do they look like?

The shell of the winged mapleleaf has a shape that is round or pentagonal, and can grow up to 4 inches long. The color of their shell is a dark brown and green mix but there are also areas of its shell where there is a sandy tan color. Their shells have many bumps and ridges running across it. ("Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", 2013; "Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997; Hornbach, et al., 1996)

  • Average length
    10 cm
    3.94 in

Where do they live?

Quadrula fragosa, the winged mapleleaf mussel, was once found throughout the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland River drainages, as well as parts of the Ouachita River in Arkansas. It may also have been found in Oklahoma. Currently, the only known populations of the winged mapleleaf live in certain parts of the St. Croix river between Wisconsin and Minnesota, and in the Saline River in Arkansas. ("Population and Habitat Viability Assessment for the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel", 1998; "Quadrula fragosa", 2013; "Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997; Hornbach, et al., 1996; Steingraeber, et al., 2007)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Winged mapleleafs live in shallow areas of freshwater rivers. The river bottoms have gravel, sand, or mud. The water in these rivers is very clear and flows consistently. ("Population and Habitat Viability Assessment for the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel", 1998; "Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams
  • Average depth
    1 m
    3.28 ft

How do they grow?

The fertilized eggs of the winged mapleleaf are stored in the female’s gills until they hatch into small larvae called glochidia. The glochidia are parasites and need to attach to a fish to complete development. They are released into the river and have to attach to the fins or gills of a nearby fish or they will die. Once the glochidia are attached to the host fish, they continue to develop there. When they have completed development on the fish, they drop off to the bottom of the stream and grow to be adults. ("Determination of Basic Reproductive Characteristics of the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Relevant to Recovery.", 2000; "Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "Quadrula fragosa", 2013; "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", 2013; Steingraeber, et al., 2007)

How do they reproduce?

Winged mapleleaf mussels begin reproduction when the males release sperm into the water. This is called spawning. The sperm is moved by the water current to the females, and the females take the sperm into their bodies through a tube called the incurrent siphon. ("Determination of Basic Reproductive Characteristics of the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Relevant to Recovery.", 2000; "Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012)

Fertilization of the sperm and egg occurs in the female, and the eggs remain there until they develop into glochidia. They are then released into the stream. Reproduction happens in the fall, when temperatures become cooler. Winged mapleleaf mussels are able to reproduce when they are 5 or 6 years old, though some are able to when they are 3 years old. Females can produce between 500,000 to several million eggs. ("Determination of Basic Reproductive Characteristics of the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Relevant to Recovery.", 2000; "Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997)

  • Breeding season
    Winged mapleleaf mussels brood after the start of fall cooling, around September to October.
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    5 to 6 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    5 to 6 years

Female winged mapleleaf mussels provide parental care by keeping the eggs and then later the hatched glochidia in their gills until they are ready to be released. After the glochidia are released and attach to a fish, they are independent and do not get any more parental care. ("Determination of Basic Reproductive Characteristics of the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Relevant to Recovery.", 2000)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

How long do they live?

The winged mapleleaf's average lifespan is not known, though the oldest known individual of this species is 22 years old. ("U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", 2013)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    22 (high) years

How do they behave?

Winged mapleleaf mussels spend most of their lives in the mud and gravel on the bottom of rivers. They can often be found living with many other species of mussels in mussel beds. They do not interact much with these other mussels, if at all. They mostly stay in one place during their adult lives, but they can move around if needed. To do this, they use their muscular foot to push and pull themselves along. ("Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", 2013)

How do they communicate with each other?

There is little known about what senses winged mapleleaf mussels use. They have no eyes and no ears, but they can be detect chemicals in the water. ("Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", 2013)

What do they eat?

Winged mapleleaf mussels filter their food from the water. They eat protozoans, bacteria, algae, as well as phytoplankton and zooplankaton. Water enters their bodies through a tube called the incurrent siphon. When the water reaches the gills, the food particles are removed from the water and brought to the mouth and stomach. The water then leaves the body through another tube called the excurrent siphon while the mussels digest their food. ("Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service", 2013)

  • Other Foods
  • microbes

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Winged mapleleaf mussels have no special defense against predators, except that they are rather small and have a hard shell. The predators of these mussels include minks, raccoons, turtles, water birds, and muskrats. ("Population and Habitat Viability Assessment for the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel", 1998; "Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

One of the main ways winged mapleleaf mussels effect their ecosystem is that the glochidia are parasites of many fish species. The glochidia attach to the blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus, or the channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus. Winged mapleleaf mussels are also a part of the food chain, and are eaten by many different predators. ("Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997; Hornbach, et al., 1996; Steingraeber, et al., 2007)

Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species

Do they cause problems?

Winged mapleleaf mussels do not cause any problems for humans.

How do they interact with us?

Scientists can study winged mapleleaf mussels to gather information about their habitat. Mussels can be very damaged by pollution, so by studying mussels, scientists can tell how polluted a habitat is. If mussels are surviving, it means that the river is a healthy habitat. But if mussels are dying, this tells scientists that something bad is happening there, so they can then try and fix the problem. ("Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf", 2012; "Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • research and education

Are they endangered?

Winged mapleleaf mussels were thought to be extinct until several of them were found in the 1980's in the St. Croix river. They are an endangered species and are now protected by the government. These mussels have a hard time surviving due to pollution and changes in their environment caused by dams. Zebra mussels, an invasive species, also cause problems for winged mapleleaf mussels by taking over their habitat. Efforts are underway to study this species and find ways to prevent it from going extinct. ("Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan", 1997; Hornbach, et al., 1996; Steingraeber, et al., 2007)

Contributors

Quinlan Eatwell (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

References

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Determination of Basic Reproductive Characteristics of the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Relevant to Recovery.. Project E-1-27. Minnesota: United States Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. 2000. Accessed March 23, 2013 at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/reports/stcroixmapleleafrepro2000.pdf.

U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Population and Habitat Viability Assessment for the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel. Final Report: June 1998. Apple Valley, MN: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. Accessed March 23, 2013 at http://www.cbsg.org/cbsg/workshopreports/23/wingedmapleleafmusselphva.pdf.

2013. "Quadrula fragosa" (On-line). Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Accessed March 23, 2013 at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=IMBIV39050.

2012. "Quadrula fragosa-Winged Mapleleaf" (On-line). NatureServe Explorer. Accessed March 23, 2013 at http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?sourceTemplate=tabular_report.wmt&loadTemplate=species_RptComprehensive.wmt&selectedReport=RptComprehensive.wmt&summaryView=tabular_report.wmt&elKey=111959&paging=home&save=true&startIndex=1&nextStartIndex=1&reset=false&offPageSelectedElKey=111959&offPageSelectedElType=species&offPageYesNo=true&post_processes=&radiobutton=radiobutton&selectedIndexes=111959.

2013. "U.S Fish and Wildlife Service" (On-line). U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangerd Species. Accessed March 23, 2013 at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Endangered/clams/winge_fc.html.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery Plan. Written for Region 3, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ft. Snelling, Minnesota: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. 1997. Accessed March 23, 2013 at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/mussel/documents/winged_mapleleaf_recovery_plan.pdf.

Hornbach, D., J. March, T. Deneka, N. Trolestrup, Jr, J. Perry. 1996. Factors Influencing the Distribution and Abundance of the Endangered Winged Mapleleaf Mussel Quadrula fragosa in the St. Croix River, Minnesota and Wisconsin. American Midland Naturalist, 136, No. 2: 278-286.

Steingraeber, M., M. Bartsch, J. Kalas, T. Newton. 2007. Thermal Criteria for Early Life Stage Development of the Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa). American Midland Naturalist, 157: 297-311.

 
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Eatwell, Q. 2014. "Quadrula fragosa" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 15, 2019 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Quadrula_fragosa/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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