Neosho Mucket (Lampsilis rafinesqueana)
(State-listed as Endangered)
Description: A non-descript freshwater mussel (clam) that is
kidney-shaped, dark brown in color and approximately four to six
inches in length. It feeds by filtering suspended alga and
microscopic organisms out of the water.
Habitat: The Neosho Mucket is found in stable gravel and finer sediment in near-shore and backwater portions of small rivers. Like all freshwater mussels, it is a filter feeder and must have a permanent source of flowing water surrounding it.
Current and Historic Distribution: Currently within Oklahoma, the Neosho Mucket is found in the Illinois River upstream from Tenkiller Reservoir, and also may occur in stable portions of the Illinois River’s larger tributaries - the Barren Fork, Caney Creek and Flint Creek. It is possible that small populations may occur in the upper reaches of the Verdigris River and the upper reaches of the Neosho River near the Kansas state line. Populations also occur in a few isolated river systems in southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. Historically, the Neosho Mucket occurred in the Oklahoma portions of the Verdigris, Caney, Neosho, Spring and Grand rivers, as well as the lower portion of the Illinois River.
Reasons for Decline: The reasons for its historic decline are unclear but past pesticide and water pollution (before these were regulated) probably played a large role. The Neosho Mucket is still affected by past and potential future reservoir construction. Reservoirs alter the habitat by creating deeper water conditions, changing water flow and allowing sediment to be deposited over gravel beds where the mussels live.