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ESR 52:1-15 (2023)  -  DOI:

Molecular data validate historical and contemporary distributions of Pleurobema riddellii (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and help guide conservation and recovery efforts

Nathan A. Johnson1,*, Caitlin E. Beaver1, Alexander H. Kiser2, Matthew A. Duplessis3, Matthew D. Wagner4, Robert J. Ellwanger5, Clinton R. Robertson6, Sean D. Kinney3, Beau B. Gregory3, Steve Wolverton7, Charles R. Randklev2, Paul D. Hartfield4, James D. Williams8, Chase H. Smith9

1US Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, 7920 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL 32653, USA
2Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX 75252, USA
3Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Baton Rouge, LA 70898, USA
4US Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
5Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
6Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Fisheries Management and Conservation Branch, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA
7University of North Texas, Department of Geography and the Environment, Denton, TX 76203, USA
8University of Florida, Florida Museum, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
9University of Texas, Department of Integrative Biology, Austin, TX 78712, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Accurate taxonomic and distributional information are arguably the most critical components of conservation status assessments but can be greatly affected by misidentifications. The Louisiana pigtoe Pleurobema riddellii is a freshwater mussel proposed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. The species belongs to the tribe Pleurobemini, which includes multiple taxa that are inherently challenging to identify without molecular data. We validated historical and recent survey records of P. riddellii using a combination of DNA sequence data and morphological characters to provide a more definitive assessment of range and spatiotemporal trends in distribution. Our comprehensive assessment identified specimens collected from the Pearl drainage as P. riddellii, extending the species’ known range into eastern Gulf of Mexico drainages. Contemporary records were unavailable from the Trinity drainage; however, we designed novel minibarcode PCR primers and used historical DNA from a specimen collected in the late 1800s to confirm the historical presence of P. riddellii at the species’ type locality in the Trinity River near Dallas, Texas, USA. Our range-wide genetic diversity assessment provides strong support for 2 main geographic groups, the Ouachita and all remaining populations, with individuals from the Pearl and Trinity drainages sharing haplotypes with conspecifics from other drainages. Available data suggest P. riddellii has been extirpated from a significant portion of the historical range, including the entire Trinity drainage. Additional surveys in Lake Pontchartrain, Trinity, and other drainages in the eastern periphery of the species’ range may provide additional clarity on the distribution and conservation status of P. riddellii.

KEY WORDS: Phylogeography · Range extension · Historical DNA · DNA barcoding · Misidentification · Ambleminae · Pleurobemini · Louisiana pigtoe

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Cite this article as: Johnson NA, Beaver CE, Kiser AH, Duplessis MA and others (2023) Molecular data validate historical and contemporary distributions of Pleurobema riddellii (Bivalvia: Unionidae) and help guide conservation and recovery efforts. Endang Species Res 52:1-15.

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