Fine-lined Pocketbook

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Fine-lined Pocketbook

Lampsilis altilis

ListedMarch 17, 1993
FamilyUnionidae (Freshwater Mussel)
DescriptionMedium-size mussel with a yellowbrown to blackish shell with fine rays.
HabitatGravel riffles in streams.
ReproductionFemale stores sperm in gills; glochidia are released into the stream after hatching.
ThreatsImpoundments, gravel and mining, water pollution.
RangeAlabama, Georgia, Tennessee


The fine-lined pocketbook, Lampsilis altilis, is a medium-sized mussel seldom more than 4 in (10 cm) in length. The shell is subovate. The ventral margin of the shell is angled posteriorly in females, resulting in a pointed posterior margin. The periostracum is yellow-brown to blackish and has fine rays on the posterior half. The nacre (inner shell surface) is white, becoming iridescent posteriorly.


See the Upland Combshell (Epioblasma metastriata ) entry.


The fine-lined pocketbook inhabits high-quality lotic habitats with stable gravel and sandy-gravel substrates. This species is generally found in small river and creek habitats. Little else is known about the habitat requirements of this species.

The habitat of the glochidia is initially in the gills of the female, then in the water column, and finally attached to a suitable host fish. Habitat associations or requirements for the juvenile stage are unknown.


This species' historic range included the Tombigbee River (Sipsey and Buttahatchee Rivers); Black Warrior River and tributaries (Sipsey Fork, Brushy and Capsey Creeks); Cahaba River and tributaries (Little Cahaba and Buck Creeks); Alabama River and a tributary, Tatum Creek; Tallapoosa River drainage (Chewacla and Opintlocco Creeks); and the Coosa River and tributaries (Choccolocco and Talladega Creeks).

The fine-lined pocketbook is currently limited to the headwaters of the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River drainage; Alabama River drainage (Tatum Creek); Cahaba River drainage (Little Cahaba River); Coosa River drainage (Conasauga River); and the Tallapoosa River drainage (Chewacla and Opintlocco Creeks). The fine-lined pocketbook was last collected from the Tombigbee River drainage in the early twentieth century. Specimens were collected in the Black Warrior River tributaries in 1985; no specimens were located in a 1990 survey but localized populations were found in Sipsey Fork tributaries and the North River in 1992. The fine-lined pocketbook was listed as abundant in the Cahaba River drainage in 1973; a specimen was collected in 1979 and two live specimens were collected in 1986 but a 1991 survey failed to locate this mussel. Collections from the Alabama River drainage were last recorded in 1981. Specimens from the Coosa and Tallapoosa River drainages were last taken in 1991. This species may have been eliminated from most river habitats throughout its range, except the Coosa and Conasauga Rivers.


Habitat modification, sedimentation, and water quality degradation represent the major threats to this species. These freshwater mussels do not tolerate impoundments. More than 1,000 mi (1,609 km) of large and small river habitat in the Mobile River drainage has been impounded for navigation, flood control, water supply, and/or hydroelectric production purposes. During the construction and dredging of impoundments, some riverine mussels are killed. Additionally, impoundments lead to the accumulation of sediments that can suffocate mussels, a reduction in food and oxygen due to the reduction in water flow, and the local extirpation of host fish. Other forms of habitat modification such as channelization, channel clearing and desnagging, and gravel mining result in streambed scour and erosion, increased turbidity, reduction of ground-water levels, sedimentation, and changes in the aquatic community structure. Sedimentation may cause direct mortality by deposition and suffocation and eliminate or reduce recruitment of juvenile mussels. Suspended sediments can also interfere with feeding. Activities that historically caused sedimentation of streams and rivers in the drainages where this mussel occurs include channel modification, agriculture, forestry, mining, and industrial and residential development.

Other types of water quality degradation from both point and nonpoint sources affect this species. Stream discharge from these sources may result in decreased dissolved oxygen concentration, increased acidity and conductivity, and other changes in water chemistry that may impact the mussels and/or their fish hosts. Point sources of water quality degradation include municipal and industrial effluents, and coalbed methane-produced water discharge. Nonpoint sources include runoff from cultivated fields, pastures, private wastewater effluents, agricultural feedlots and poultry houses, active and abandoned coal mine sites, and highway and road drainages.

About 230 mi (370 km) of the Coosa River have been impounded for hydropower by a series of six dams. Water quality degradation caused by textile and carpet mill wastes led to the loss of several known mussel communities in several streams of this river system.

Water quality degradation is a major problem in the Cahaba River system. There are 10 municipal wastewater treatment plants, 35 surface mining areas, one coalbed methane operation, and 67 other permitted discharges in this river system. Siltation from surface mining, road construction, and oil and gas development is also a problem.

Conservation and Recovery

Actions needed for the recovery of freshwater mussels include: (1) Conduct population and habitat surveys to determine the status and range of the species. (2) Determine specific threats to the species and minimize or eliminate these threats. (3) Identify essential habitat areas in need of protection. Make use of land agreements, mussel sanctuaries, scenic river status, and land acquisition. (4) Introduce individuals back into the historic range, as it is unlikely that the species will recover unless new populations are established. Methods to accomplish this might include introduction of adult/juvenile mussels, glochidia-infected host fish, and artificially cultured individuals. (5) Control the incidental or illegal take of mussels by commercial and noncommercial collecting.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345

U. S. Fi0sh and Wildlife Service
Daphne Ecological Services Field Office
P.O. Box 1190
Daphne, Alabama 36526-1190
Telephone: (334) 441-5181
Fax: (334) 441-6222

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Cookeville Ecological Services Field Office
446 Neal Street
Cookeville, Tennessee 38501-4027
Telephone: (931) 528-6481
Fax: (931) 528-7075


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 17 March 1993. "De-termination of Endangered or Threatened Status for Eight Freshwater Mussels and Threatened Status for Three Freshwater Mussels in the Mobile River Drainage." Federal Register 58 (50): 14330-14340.