Recent surveys for unionid bivalves were conducted in the mainstem of the Sipsey River and headwater tributaries (Tombigbee River drainage) during the summer and autumn of 1996-1999. A total of 35 species and 22 genera were found. Museum records from the upper Sipsey, based largely on the efforts of H. H. Smith during 1910-11, raised the total number of recorded unionids in the Sipsey to 42. Smith documented 25 species in the river; however, most of his collections were made in the mid- to upper-Sipsey, which has lower diversity. The three most common recently observed species in descending order of abundance were Quadrula asperata (I. Lea, 1861), Pleurobema decisum (I. Lea, 1831), and Tritogonia verrucosa (Rafinesque, 1820). Federally listed species observed recently include Lampsilis perovalis (Conrad, 1834) (threatened), Medionidus acutissimus (I. Lea, 1831) (threatened), P. decisum (endangered), P. perovatum (Conrad, 1834) (endangered), and Potamilus inflatus (I. Lea, 1831) (threatened). Species not observed recently but recorded in prior surveys include Anodontoides radiatus (Conrad, 1834), Arcidens confragosus (Say, 1829), Plectomerus dombeyanus (Valenciennes, 1827), Q. metanevra (Rafinesque, 1820), Q. stapes (I. Lea, 1831) (federally endangered), P. taitianum (I. Lea, 1834) (federally endangered), and Toxolasma parvus (Barnes, 1823). Many, species are known recently or historically by only five or fewer recorded specimens including: A. radiatus, Elliptio arctata (Conrad, 1834), Ligumia recta (Lamarck, 1819), P. taitianum, P. inflatus, Q. aspera (Lea, 1831), Q. metanevra, Q. stapes, T. parvus, Truncilla donaciformis (I. Lea, 1828), Uniomerus tetralasmus (Say, 1831), Utterbackia imbecillis (Say, 1829), A. confragosus, and P. dombeyanus. Unlike the mussel fauna of most Alabama streams, that of the Sipsey River is still relatively intact in terms of species richness despite impacts from mining, silvicultural, and agricultural activities. A concerted effort should be made to provide guidelines to manage floodplain and watershed activities to avoid future adverse impacts on this aquatic hotspot.
Additional publication details
The unionid (Bivalvia) fauna of the Sipsey River in northwestern Alabama, an aquatic hotspot