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The Northern Riffleshell (NRS), Epioblasma torulosa rangiana, is a federally endangered mussel once widespread throughout the upper Ohio River system and the western basin of Lake Erie. Within the last 30 years the species had slowly declined in Ohio until it probably only remained in Big Darby Creek. Mussels now appear to be thriving once again in that system and it was decided to attempt to augment the struggling population of NRS with genetically similar adults from the upper Allegheny River in Pennsylvania where the species is still abundant. Nearly 1800 adult NRS were moved to Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park in 2008. This was the result of a partnership between numerous agencies and NGO's: two regions of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the PA Fish and Boat Commission, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Ohio State University, and Columbus Metro Parks. This was the largest relocation of an endangered species in Ohio's history.

The Northern Riffleshell, like other members of the genus Epioblasma, parasitize hosts by capturing them between their shells and pumping their larvae, glochidia, onto the fish. Hosts are darters and sculpins.



Mussels were placed over a two mile reach of Big Darby Creek in Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park. So that we could monitor the relocated populations, each of the nearly 1800 mussels were affixed with a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag.


We wanted to capitalize on the educational potential of this release. The effort was covered by several Ohio and other state newspapers, WOSU radio, and US Today.


Monitoring began in April 2009. Stay tuned for more of the first year's results.

Site
# Released
# Recovered
% Recovered
Voss – Upper+Middle
152
117
78%
Voss – Lower
500
169
34%
Sycamore
100
48
48%
Lunch – Upper
200
112
56%
Lunch – Lower
69
55
80%
Elk Toe Run
500
233
47%
Hidden Run – Upper
52
25
50%
Hidden Run – Lower
200
108
54%
Totals
1773
867
49%

# dead = 1. Muskrat midden at Elk Toe Run

Additional photos courtesy of Angela Boyer (USFWS), Dave Zanatta (CMU), Mac Albin (Metro Parks).