From the Missouri Conservationist Magazine
August 2018 Issue

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Plain Pocketbook mussel
Cliff White

Wild Guide

Plain Pocketbook | Lampsilis cardium

Status

Widespread, common

Size

Adult length: 4–7 inches

Distribution

Almost statewide, except for river systems far north and northwest. The plain pocketbook mussel is found in nearly every major river system and creek in Missouri. This large, moderately thick, rounded mussel prefers gravel, sand, cobble, or nearly any substrate in a quiet current. This species was important in the button industry. In Missouri, button factories opened in Mississippi River towns, like Hannibal and Louisiana, where mussel beds were prevalent. Eventually, pollution and overharvest reduced the mussel populations and the industry came to an end.

Life Cycle

Males release sperm directly into the water, and females downstream siphon it into the gill chamber, where eggs are fertilized. Eggs mature into larvae (called glochidia). These discharge into the water and attach to host fish, like white crappie, sauger, bluegill, yellow perch, and others. The tiny mussels eventually break away and float to the bottom of the stream, and the cycle repeats.

Foods

Feeds on algae and fine particles of decaying organic matter, and gets nutrients and oxygen from water drawn into the body through a specialized gill called the incurrent siphon.

Ecosystem Connections

Mussels act as nature’s “vacuum cleaners,” filtering and cleansing polluted waters. They are also an important food source for other species in the aquatic environment.

Did You Know?

Mussels are excellent indicators of water quality because they are long-lived and relatively immobile. They accumulate contaminants from pollution.

Also in this issue

Three-Toed Box Turtle

The Three-Toed Box Turtle

This long-lived reptile needs our help surviving habitat loss and other threats.

Cecil Murray in a boat fishing

Missouri’s Weird Walleye

In Current and Black river country swims a walleye with unique genetics.

Areal view of the Missouri river

Where Dark Waters Raged in ‘93

River-edges ravaged by the Great Flood now serve conservation.

And More...

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This Issue's Staff:

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler