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Distribution of the Armored Snail (Marstonia pachyta) and Slender Campeloma (Campeloma decampi) in Limestone, Piney, and Round Island Creeks, Alabama
Thomas M. Haggerty and Jeffrey T. Garner

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 7, Number 4 (2008): 729–736

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2008 SOUTHEASTERN NATURALIST 7(4):729–736 Distribution of the Armored Snail (Marstonia pachyta) and Slender Campeloma (Campeloma decampi) in Limestone, Piney, and Round Island Creeks, Alabama Thomas M. Haggerty1,* and Jeffrey T. Garner2 Abstract - Qualitative sampling for Marstonia pachyta (Armored Snail) and Campeloma decampi (Slender Campeloma), two federally endangered species, was conducted at road crossings on Limestone (n = 13), Piney (n = 10), and Round Island (n = 7) creeks, AL, to determine their distribution. Marstonia pachyta was observed at 9 sites on Limestone Creek and 3 sites on Piney Creek. The species extended upstream to river mile 31 on Limestone Creek and river mile 15 on Piney Creek. Haphazard sampling also yielded a greater overall number of individuals from Limestone Creek than Piney Creek. Marstonia pachyta was not found in Round Island Creek, where it is replaced by M. arga (Ghost Marstonia). Live C. decampi were observed at 12 of the sampled sites (n = 30) in the three streams. Round Island Creek had the greatest percentage of sites with the species (4 of 7) and the highest catch per unit effort. Campeloma decampi extended up to river mile 14.5, 19.3, and 7.8 on Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks, respectively. Results extended the known occurrence of M. pachyta and C. decampi upstream of their previously known ranges. However, careful monitoring and more in-depth studies seem warranted considering the rapid urban and industrial growth within the watersheds of the three streams that they inhabit. Introduction Freshwater snails are some of the most imperiled animals in the world, and the rivers of the southeastern United States are species-rich with many threatened forms (Bogan 2001, 2006; Lydeard and Mayden 1995; Neves et al. 1997; Strong et al. 2008). Despite this fact, the status of most species is poorly known (Bogan 2001, 2006). If sound management and conservation decisions concerning freshwater gastropods are to be made, an important first step includes determining the size and extent of a species’ population (Bogan 2006). This information provides important baseline data to help determine population trends and is especially important for species that have limited distributions. Marstonia pachyta Thompson (Armored Snail, Hydrobiidae) and Campeloma decampi (Binney) (Slender Campeloma, Viviparidae) are freshwater snails endemic to a small portion of northern Alabama (Fig. 1A, B). Marstonia pachyta is only known from the Limestone Creek drainage, including its largest tributary, Piney Creek (Fig. 2; Garner 1993, Hershler 1994, Thompson 1977). The impounded waters of Wheeler Reservoir now 1Department of Biology, University of North Alabama, Florence, AL 35632. 2Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 350, County Road 275, Florence, AL 35633. *Corresponding author - 730 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 7, No. 4 isolate the free-fl owing portions of the two creeks. Campeloma decampi is historically known from Bass and Swan lakes (located in Limestone County across the Tennessee River from Decatur, AL, now inundated by Wheeler Reservoir) east to Jackson County, AL (Clench and Turner 1955). However, the current known distribution of C. decampi is restricted to Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks, all in Limestone County (Fig. 2; Aquatic Resources Center 1997). In 2000, both M. pachyta and C. decampi were listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Federal Register 2000). However, their status has not been assessed since the mid-1990s, and the initial survey work was limited to just a few sites on Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks (Aquatic Resources Center 1997, Garner 1993). Rapid urban and industrial growth around Huntsville, including the portion of Limestone and Madison counties that encompasses Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creek drainages, threatens the environmental quality of these watersheds, but no critical habitat has yet been designated. Therefore, monitoring and understanding the geographical extent of the populations of these endangered snail species is important and was the focus of this study. Study Area and Methods Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks are third-order streams that lie entirely within the Tennessee Valley District of the Interior Low Plateau Physiographic Province (Sapp and Emplaincourt 1975). The bedrock of the creeks is Fort Payne Chert and Tuscumbia Limestone, with the exception of some upper reaches of the Limestone Creek drainage in which rocks of the Ordovician System are exposed (Osborne et al. 1988, Szabo et al. 1988). Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks have similar habitats. These streams have riffl es, runs, and pools, and the substrate of the runs and riffl es Figure 1. Campeloma decampi (A); Marstonia pachyta showing two apical glands (arrows) on verge (B); and Marstonia arga showing single apical gland (arrow) on verge and distinct angle of penis (C). The Campeloma decampi and Marstonia pachyta specimens pictured are from Limestone Creek, Limestone County, AL, and the Marstonia arga specimen is from Round Island Creek, Limestone County, AL. 2008 T.M. Haggerty and J.T. Garner 731 is mostly gravel with interstitial silt. The pools and marginal areas often have deposits of mud, frequently associated with beds of Justicia americana (Linnaeus) Vahl (Waterwillow). Accumulations of detritus are often encountered in pools. Exposed bedrock occurs at some sites, but outcrops are generally not extensive. Terrain surrounding the three streams is primarily agricultural or forested, but encroachment of residential areas has increased considerably in the last decade, especially in the Piney Creek drainage. Riparian zones are generally intact and banks are stable, with breaks in riparian vegetation localized. Canopy cover in most reaches is extensive, spanning the stream in many areas. Limestone Creek is approximately 72 km (44.7 mi) long and has a drainage area of 290 km2 (112 mi2), Piney Creek is approximately 62 km (38.5 mi) long and has a drainage area of 246 km2 (95 mi2), and Round Island Creek is approximately 25 km (15.5 mi) long and has a drainage area of 135 km2 (52 mi2). Limestone and Piney Creeks fl ow into the Limestone Creek embayment, which enters Wheeler Reservoir at Tennessee River mile (TRM) 311. Round Island Creek lies west of the Limestone/Piney Creek system and fl ows into Wheeler Reservoir at TRM 298. Swan Creek and several smaller tributaries of the Tennessee River lie between Round Island and the Limestone/Piney Creek systems, but M. pachyta and C. decampi are not known to occur there (Aquatic Resources Center 1997, Garner 1993). The snail fauna of Swan Figure 2. Study area showing survey sites on Round Island, Piney, and Limestone creeks, Limestone and Madison counties, AL. Survey site identification symbols correspond to those used in Table 1. 732 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 7, No. 4 Table 1. Location information and results of surveys from 30 sites on Limestone, Piney and Round Island creeks, Limestone and Madison counties, AL, 2006–2007. Individual counts are from live individuals collected from haphazard sampling by a single observer per hour. Campeloma Marstonia Sample Latitude Longitude decampi/ pachyta/ ID Date Creek (°N) (°W) hr/observer hr/observer LC1 7-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.63159 86.86696 4 30 LC2 14-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.61924 86.86133 1 0 LC3 14-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.67538 86.87849 2 7 LC4 14-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.67159 86.86472 1 24 LC5 14-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.72955 86.84373 1 29 LC6 18-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.77287 86.79949 8 30 LC7 18-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.80289 86.81602 0 36 LC8 18-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.83510 86.80869 0 51 LC9 25-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.85185 86.81519 0 46 LC10 25-Aug-2006 Limestone 34.88425 86.78394 0 33 LC11 1-Sep-2006 Limestone 34.91610 86.74838 0 0 LC12 1-Sep-2006 Limestone 34.91439 86.73061 0 0 LC13 1-Sep-2006 Limestone 34.93302 86.71972 0 0 PC1 14-Aug-2006 Piney 34.73085 86.90857 0 0 PC2 15-Aug-2006 Piney 34.64296 86.89172 0 33 PC3 15-Aug-2006 Piney 34.65752 86.90029 4 0 PC4 15-Aug-2006 Piney 34.70695 86.90777 0 40 PC5 1-Sep-2006 Piney 34.88704 86.89311 0 0 PC6 1-Sep-2006 Piney 34.86156 86.90630 0 0 PC7 17-Jan-2007 Piney 34.76334 86.90956 0 50 PC8 26-Jan-2007 Piney 34.78825 86.88976 4 0 PC9 26-Jan-2007 Piney 34.80291 86.88394 0 0 PC10 27-Mar-2007 Piney 34.82961 86.89474 0 0 RIC1 15-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.73233 87.07191 7 0 RIC2 16-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.71412 87.05223 3 0 RIC3 16-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.75293 87.08434 18 0 RIC4 16-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.78312 87.04561 0 0 RIC5 16-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.78165 87.05461 0 0 RIC6 16-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.77747 87.07181 16 0 RIC7 18-Aug-2006 Round Island 34.78886 87.03632 0 0 Creek appears to have closer affinities to Elk River, which lies west of Round Island Creek, than to the faunas of Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks, so it was not included in this survey (J.T. Garner, pers. observ.). Qualitative sampling for M. pachyta and C. decampi was conducted at road crossings on Limestone Creek (n = 13) in Limestone and Madison counties, on Piney Creek (n = 10) in Limestone County, and on Round Island Creek (n = 7) in Limestone County (Fig. 2, Table 1). Presumably, reaches between bridge crossings hold significant populations. However, low water levels during the drought of 2006 made fl oat surveys of these streams impractical. Sampling was carried out between river miles 4.5 and 38 on Limestone Creek, between river miles 3 and 29 on Piney Creek, and between river miles 0.5 and 10 on Round Island Creek. Sites were sampled in August (n = 21) and September (n = 5) of 2006, and in January (n = 3) and March (n = 1) of 2007. Haphazard sampling on approximately 100-m reaches was carried out by two or three observ2008 T.M. Haggerty and J.T. Garner 733 ers for an average of 61 minutes (range = 25–105, n = 30) per site. Although our primary focus was to determine the occurrence of the two focal species at each site, catch per unit effort (i.e., number of individuals encountered per hour per observer) was also recorded. Tributaries of Limestone, Piney and Round Island creeks are few and generally located in the headwaters of their respective drainage. These were not included in this study. To find M. pachyta, a 1-mm mesh dip net was used to collect samples from submerged tree roots growing along creek edges and from macrophytes growing in the creek. Submerged tree roots were sampled by vigorously shaking them within the dip net. Macrophytes were sampled by placing the dip net just downstream and dislodging gastropods by hand. Dip-net samples were then washed and sorted in a white pan. To find C. decampi, samples of substrate were collected with a dip net, metal scoop, or by hand, placed into a 4-mm sieve and washed. Substrates sampled for C. decampi included gravel, sand, mud, and detritus. Campeloma decampi was identified in the field by its large size, ovately conic shell, and tapered, pointed spire, usually with fine, spiral striations (Fig. 1A; Burch 1989, Garner 2004). No other species of Campeloma were encountered during this survey. However, Campeloma decisum (Say) (Pointed Campeloma) is known to occur in Limestone Creek embayment. Specimens were photographed and returned to the habitat from which they were collected. Identification of species within Marstonia involves relaxing and examining reproductive organs (Fig. 1B, C; Hershler 1994). Because M. pachyta is federally endangered, routine relaxation of individuals encountered was not feasible. Fortunately, M. pachyta is easily distinguished from sympatric M. scalariformis Wolf (Moss Pyrg), because the shell of the latter has a more tapered spire and a angular body whorl and is usually adorned with a distinct carina. All Marstonia from Limestone and Piney creeks that were not identified as M. scalariformis were presumed to be M. pachyta since no additional Marstonia species were encountered during the most recent survey (Garner 1993). Most Marstonia were released back into the habitat from which they were collected, but to verify the presence of M. pachyta in Limestone and Piney creeks and confirm that our field identifications to genus were valid, two individuals from each creek were collected under federal permit number TE 130300-00. The specimens of M. pachyta and other hydrobiids were relaxed with menthol, fixed with formalin, preserved in 95% ethanol, examined with a 7-45x dissecting microscope, and identified using Hershler (1994) and Thompson (1977). Specimens will be deposited at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Results Marstonia pachyta was found at 12 of the 23 sites sampled on Limestone and Piney creeks (Table 1). A greater number of sites on Limestone Creek had M. pachyta (9 of 13 sites) than on Piney Creek (3 of 10 sites) (Table 1). In Piney Creek, M. pachyta was not found at any of the five sites above river 734 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 7, No. 4 mile 15 (PC7; Fig. 2, Table 1). On Limestone Creek, all the sites but one below river mile 30.7 (LC10; Fig. 2, Table 1) had the species, but none were found at the three sampling sites upstream of that point. Catch-per-uniteffort data indicate that M. pachyta was in good numbers if suitable habitat was present (Table 1). Variation in size of individuals was observed at most sites where this species was found, including juveniles and adults. Marstonia pachyta was not encountered in Round Island Creek, where the species is replaced by M. arga Thompson (Ghost Marstonia) (Fig. 1C). Live C. decampi were located at 12 of 30 of the sampling sites on Limestone, Piney, and Round Island creeks (Table 1) and an additional two sites (PC2 and PC9) had only single fresh-dead individuals. Variation in size of individuals was observed at most sites where the species was encountered. Round Island Creek had the greatest percentage of sites with the species (4 of 7; Table 1) and had the highest individual count (44; Table 1), with the population extending upstream to river mile 7.8 (RIC6). In Limestone Creek, C. decampi were collected from all six sites downstream of approximately river mile 14.5 (i.e., LC6), but none were found at the remaining seven sites upstream of that point. Piney Creek had the lowest percentage of sites with live C. decampi (2 of 10) and the most upstream site with the species was at approximately river mile 19.3 (PC8). Piney Creek also had the greatest distance between location sites and lowest catch per unit effort (Table 1). Discussion Marstonia pachyta was well dispersed in Piney and Limestone creeks (Table 1). In Limestone Creek, the species was found at two sites (LC8, LC10) where Garner (1993) did not find it. Further, it was found at six Limestone Creek localities (LC1, LC4, LC5, LC6, LC7, and LC9) not visited by Garner (1993). In Piney Creek, M. pachyta was present at two sites (PC2 and PC4) where Garner (1993) found them and at one additional site (PC7). The species was again not located in Piney Creek at the Limestone County Road 44 site (PC9; Garner 1993) or from seven other sites that were sampled for the first time (Table 1). In both creeks, individuals appeared to be most common on submerged root masses and bryophytes along stream edges, submerged bryophytes growing on rocks in moderate current, and on Waterwillow plants, especially their exposed roots. These dense, finely branched mats of vegetation may offer excellent sites for feeding, as well as refuge from predators. Marstonia pachyta was not found in Round Island Creek. There the species was replaced by M. arga, which was collected from similar habitats as those in which M. pachyta was found in Limestone and Piney creeks. Identifications were confirmed by examination of the verges of adult males, and the two species were easily distinguished. Marstonia pachyta has two small glands along the left margin of the apical lobe (Fig. 1B), whereas M. arga (Fig. 1C) has a single gland on an apical lobe that is somewhat expanded 2008 T.M. Haggerty and J.T. Garner 735 compared to that of M. pachyta (Burch 1989, Hershler 1994, Thompson 1977). Marstonia pachyta has never been reported outside of the Limestone/ Piney Creek drainage and is believed to be endemic to the system. Marstonia arga is widespread in the southern bend of the Tennessee River and in many tributaries of that reach (Hershler 1994). Periodic sampling of Limestone and Piney creeks is needed to monitor for the possible colonization by M. arga, to the potential detriment of M. pachyta. Marstonia pachyta was more widely dispersed in Limestone Creek than in Piney Creek. In Limestone Creek, individuals were found upstream to river mile 31, but only about half that distance on Piney Creek. Piney Creek seemed less suitable for the species due to anthropogenic factors, including those associated with sod farming and residential development. More research is needed to quantify the density and habitat needs of M. pachyta in these two streams. More detailed anatomical and genetic comparisons are required to establish differences that may or may not be present between the Limestone and Piney Creek populations. Also, a population of Marstonia in Beaverdam Creek (S. Clark, Chicago Academy of Sciences, Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, IL, pers. comm.) was unknown to the authors at the time of this survey. This population should be examined, as Beaverdam Creek is part of the Limestone Creek drainage. Although C. decampi was found in all three creeks, it was most easily found in Round Island Creek. Round Island Creek appeared to have more suitable habitat, such as substrates composed of clay along creek margins, and relatively large patches of Waterwillow growing in clay and mud (see Garner 2004). Campeloma decampi was most often found burrowing at shallow depths in these types of substrates. The density of this species in these types of habitats needs to be quantified and the substrate in which it prefers to burrow should be thoroughly studied. Also, anatomical and genetic studies are required to establish differences among the Limestone, Piney, and Round Island Creek populations. Such work is in progress (D. Campbell, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, pers. comm.). In summary, this research indicates that M. pachyta remains present in Limestone and Piney creeks. Although both creeks offer suitable habitat, it appears to be more widely dispersed in Limestone Creek. Campeloma decampi was found in all three creeks, but its habitat seems very patchy. This may restrict its dispersal and abundance within the streams. Acknowledgments Thanks to Jeff Powell, Lucas Gilbert, Arthur Bogan, Paul Johnson, Courtney Graydon, Paul Kittle, and Priscilla Holland for their help with this study. The manuscript was greatly improved by comments from David Campbell, Paul Johnson, and an anonymous reviewer. This research was funded by a cooperative agreement between the US Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the University of North Alabama. 736 Southeastern Naturalist Vol. 7, No. 4 Literature Cited Aquatic Resources Center. 1997. Survey for selected species of gastropods in the Tennessee River drainage of northern Alabama. Report prepared for US Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville, NC. 65 pp. Binney, W.G. 1865. Descriptions of new species of North American land and freshwater shells. American Journal of Conchology 1:49–51. Bogan, A.E. 2001. Extinction wave in the making. Pp. 138–139, In A. Bräutigam and M.D. Jenkins (Eds.). The Red Book: The Extinction Crisis Face to Face. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and CEMEX, S.A., Mexico City, Mexico. 312 pp. Bogan, A.E. 2006. Conservation and extinction of the freshwater molluscan fauna of North America. Pp. 373–383, In C.F. Sturm, T.A. Pearce, and A. Valdes (Eds.). The Mollusks: A Guide to their Study, Collection, and Preservation. American Malacological Society, Pittsburgh, PA. Universal Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 460 pp. Burch, J.B. 1989. North American Freshwater Snails. Malacological Publications, Hamburg, MI. 365 pp. Clench, W.J., and R.D. Turner. 1955. The North American genus Lioplax in the family Viviparidae. 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