Propagating Threatened and Endangered Mussels in Eastern North Carolina


yellow lance Threatened Protected under the Endangered Species Act since April 2, 2018 Conserving Aquatic Wildlife in Eastern North Carolina Hi everyone, this is Lilibeth Serrano with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Today, I am at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine and I am going to be visiting for the first time the Aquatic Epidemiology Conservation Lab. I am going to speak with Chris Eads who’s the coordinator and he is going to tell us about the work he is doing with the yellow lance. Hey Lilibeth! Hi Chris! This video was shot in April 2018. In May, NC State related this lab to another building. The mission and operation remain unchanged. This is the Mussel Barn at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. Would you like a tour now? Yep! Show me around! Chris Eads, Researcher, NCSU So this barn is entirely dedicated to the propagation of fresh water mussels, and research on their life history and aquaculture. This half of the lab is all dedicated to holding fish. You are familiar with their life cycle. They require the use of a host fish in order to complete their transformation from a larvae or larva to a juvenile. We bring in the host fish from the wild. Different species of mussels require different species of fish to use as it’s host. So this is the host fish we would use for the yellow lance or the Tar River spiny mussel. We’ll hold them typically in this system here when they first come in the lab. We’ll quarantine them to make sure they are not holding any diseases or bringing any diseases into the lab. How do larvae find and latch onto their host fish in the lab? Larvae go in here with a small volume of water and the appropriate number of fish. We aerate it, and larvae will be in suspension inside this jar. As the fish and larvae are in here together, the larvae will attach to the fins of the fish or the gills of the fish. They come out with shells, but they come out open when they come out of the female. When they come in contact with the fish, the shells will clamp shut on the gills or the fins of the fish. View of larval mussels (glochidia) attached to gills under a microscope. These are the tanks we would use when we actually infest fish with the larvae of the mussels. We have a lot of condensation because I am chilling the tanks. So, these are white shiners. Right now they are not in use but they will be later in the year. Probably May is when we’ll start using those for yellow lance. Juvenile mussels About every day or two we clean these screens off and rinse the juveniles down because they get biofilm that clogs the screen or fowls the juveniles a little bit. Huh…it looks like sand. Yeah. They are about two tenths of a millimeter in size, individually, when they first drop off the fish. One-year olds grown in ponds These are three yellow lance that we reared in ponds in 2017. Right now they are in temporary holding, here in the lab, but they will probably go back out to a pond. We are doing a secondary grow-out in a month. So when the water warms up out in the ponds, they will go back out there. They will grow a lot faster in a pond with the natural water source and a richer diet than they will here. Floating cages keep juveniles at the top. Later, the mussels get relocated to rivers with free flowing water, their forever homes. Two-year olds grown in the lab. So, these are yellow lances propagated in 2016, and they’ve been reared in the laboratory here. You can see that they are smaller than the ones we reared in the pond. Dwarf wedge mussels The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with state resource agencies and others Yellow lance to recover the yellow lance and other threatened and endangered mussels that live in the same habitat. and share similar needs to thrive in the wild. We are working with Wake County, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and North Carolina State University to renovate the research area at the A.E. Finley Center at the Yates Mill Historic County Park. Located just five miles south of Downtown Raleigh, the park is managed as a native wildlife refuge and includes a twenty acre pond. The Yates Mill pond would be a reliable source of untreated, free-flowing water, rich in algae and nutrients for young mussels to thrive. The new facility would be known as the Yates Mill Aquatic Conservation Center. Once renovated the center would provide opportunities for teaching, research, and outreach. Start-up funds for mussel propagation and research are already in place. thanks to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Additional funds for design, construction, and operation would be provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Building and operating the Yates Mill Aquatic Conservation Center would benefit the yellow lance and other federally-listed and at-risk animals including the endangered dwarf wedgemussel, the Tar River spinymussel, and the magnificent ramshorn snail which is currently under review and is a candidate for federal protection. Music Drift Pages Turn, Name of the Child-Motions Special thanks Chris Eads, NC State Nicholas Oberle, NC State Sarah McRae, USFWS Produced by Lilibeth Serrano, USFWS

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