Plants and Animals

Ligumia recta Black sandshell

Key Characteristics

The black sandshell is a large mussel (to 9 inches), with a smooth, elongate shell ranging in color from dark green or brown to black. Green rays are sometimes visible. This species has a low, broad beak, pointed posterior and rounded anterior ends, straight dorsal margin and ventral margin straight to moderately curved. The nacre is whitish-pink to purple.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from apparently secure to secure
State Rank: S1? - Critically imperiled (inexact or uncertain)

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan1
Arenac11932
Barry12010
Bay31926
Benzie12000
Berrien21930
Clare11949
Clinton12010
Dickinson31996
Houghton12016
Huron11951
Ionia22016
Iosco1
Isabella22015
Jackson12010
Kent62017
Lenawee21929
Livingston32007
Luce12007
Mackinac11942
Macomb52011
Mecosta21934
Menominee72011
Midland32015
Monroe52006
Muskegon21936
Newaygo21934
Oakland32004
Osceola31949
Ottawa2
Roscommon11934
Saginaw22008
St. Clair32011
Tuscola21984
Washtenaw32007
Wayne72008

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

The black sandshell most commonly occupies rivers with strong currents and lakes with a firm substrate of gravel or sand (Watters et al. 2009).

Natural Community Types

  • Great lake, littoral, benthic
  • Great lake, pelagic, benthic
  • Inland lake, littoral, benthic
  • Inland lake, pelagic, benthic
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), riffle
  • River (5th-6th order), pool
  • River (5th-6th order), run
  • River (5th-6th order), riffle

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Maintaining healthy populations of black sandshell's host fish species and open water conditions to facilitate their movement, will benefit this species. As all unionid species are vulnerable to pollutants and heavy metals, reducing point and non-point source water pollution is a priority. Black sandshell in particular has shown extreme sensitivity to copper and cadmium (Pip 1995), which is commonly introduced to aquatic systems through pesticide/herbicide applications, industrial waste, urban runoff, and mine drainage (Grabarkiewicz and Davis 2008). Alteration of habitat through river impoundment, dredging, bridge construction, and dam removal pose a threat to all native mussels, and monitoring and mitigation measures should be planned for prior to such activities taking place. Efforts to control the spread of zebra mussels, such as cleaning boat hulls, trailers, and scuba and fishing gear before traveling between bodies of water, are necessary for the conservation of this species.

Active Period

Gravid from first week of August to fourth week of July

Survey Methods

Visual and tactile search using scuba or glass-bottom buckets. Tactile search (by hand) is especially important where water turbidity and pebbles/rocks make visual detection difficult. After identification, live mussels should be planted back into the substrate anterior end down. Surveys should not take place after heavy rains or during periods of high water as these conditions can make detection much more difficult.  Methods of documenting survey effort include: searching a large measured area, e.g. 128m2; taking multiple quadrat samples; and recording search time (person hours).  For all methods, at least some excavation of substrate (by hand, 5-10cm down) should be done to detect buried mussels.  Searching a large measured area or timed searches are generally better for detecting rare species and generating a species list than quadrat sampling.  These two methods allow more types of microhabitats and a larger area to be covered.  Quadrat sampling is better suited for documenting changes in density and other statistical analyses at the site level (Strayer and Smith 2003). 

Glass-bottom bucket less than waist deep water

Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of October

SCUBA greater than waist deep water

Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of October

References

Survey References

  • Cummings, K.S. and C.A. Mayer. 1992. Field Guide to Freshwater Mussels of the Midwest. Illinois Natural History Survey Manual 5, Champaign. 194pp.

Technical References

  • Cosgrove, P.J., and L.C. Hastie. 2001. Conservation of threatened freshwater pearl mussel populations: river management, mussel translocation and conflict resolution. Biological Conservation 99:183-190.
  • Grabarkiewicz, J. and W. Davis. 2008. An introduction to freshwater mussels as biological indicators. EPA-260-R-08-015. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Information, Washington, DC.
  • Oesch, R.D. 1984. Missouri Naiades: a Guide to the Mussels of Missouri. Conservation Commision of the State of Missouri, Jefferson City. 270pp.
  • Pip, E. 1995. Cadmium, lead and copper in freshwater mussels from the Assiniboine River, Manitoba, Canada. Journal of Molluscan Studies 61:295-302.
  • Strayer, D.L. and D.R. Smith. 2003. A Guide to Sampling Freshwater Mussel Populations. American Fisheries Society Monograph 8, Bethesda. 103pp.
  • Wang, N., C.G. Ingersoll, I.E. Greer, D.K. Hardesty, C.D. Ivey, J.L. Kunz, W.G. Brumbaugh, F.J. Dwyer, A.D. Robers, T. Augspurger, C.M. Cane, R.J. Neves, and M.C. Barnhart. 2007. Assessing contaminant sensitivity of early life stages of freshwater mussels (Unionidae): Chronic toxicity testing of juvenile mussels with copper and ammonia. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 35pp.
  • Watters, G. Thomas, Michael A. Hoggarth, and David H. Stansbery. 2009. The Freshwater Mussels of Ohio. The Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 421 pp.