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Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Ellington Agricultural Center
440 Hogan Road
Nashville, TN 37220
(615) 781-6500
Pale Lilliput Juvenile Mussels Raised to Create Two New Wild Populations

Pale Lilliput (Toxolasma cylindrellus) is a critically endangered species. It is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in Tennessee. In 2016, 10 gravid female mussels were collected from a small tributary of the Duck River by Mr. Don Hubbs, the State Mollusk Recovery Program Coordinator. They were brought to C-RAC (the Cumberland River Aquatic Center) for the propagation of juvenile mussels. More than 4,000 juveniles were produced from four infestations of the host fish, Northern studfish, starting on June 10, 2016. With ever-improving husbandry techniques, the survival rate of pale lilliput juveniles reached 99%--an exceptional growth rate!

Pale Lilliput mussels currently growing at C-RAC represent a larger population of this species than exist in the wild in Tennessee, which is sufficient to create a new population at a site with suitable habitat. Accordingly, on September 9, 2017 all C-RAC juvenile Pale Lilliputs were labeled with bee tags in different colors and black glue dots for monitoring after stocking. (Bee tags were developed by Beeworks specifically for working with bees, but malacologists have adapted their use for tagging tiny juvenile mussels.)

Biologists from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Tennessee Tech came to C-RAC to assist with the mussel tagging. Of those grown-out juvenile mussels, a total of 392 were labeled with lime, white, blue and light green bee tags (each color only comes in a series from 1 to 100, so multiple colors are needed for greater than 100 juveniles). These were released at two sites in the Duck River by crew members Don Hubbs, Bobby Brown and Dan Hua of TWRA on September 27, 2017. A total of 563 Pale Lilliput mussels were labeled with pink bee tags and black glue dots, and released at one large site in the Elk River by crew members Don Hubbs and Jeff Garner (Alabama Department Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries) on October 17, 2017.

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