Choate vegetation management project

Alasmidonta marginata Elktoe Mussel

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Alasmidonta marginata Elktoe Mussel

This mussel has a thin, bright yellowish-green shell with dark green rays and many black spots. It has a sharply angled posterior ridge, poorly developed teeth, and a heavy umbo sculpture (NatureServe 2000). They are widely distributed but never abundant. They extend from Ontario (Great Lakes drainage) to Alabama, and New York to North Dakota. The center of their distribution is in Ohio and Indiana (NatureServe 2000). They have been found in Michigan and all of the states, including Ontario, that surrounds the western UP, therefore it is highly likely they are on the Ottawa National Forest. Cummings and Mayer (1992) show their range extending to the UP border with Wisconsin, unfortunately, they do not have any distributional information from the Great Lakes drainage. The preferred habitat is riffles in small streams with a swift current and fine to coarse gravel. They can also be found in larger streams with a mixed gravel-sand bottom (NatureServe 2000). Like all mussels, A. marginata is a filter feeder, feeding on suspended organic material, algae, and bacteria. As a result, they would be negatively impacted by heavy inorganic sedimentation. A. marginata reproduces by means of glochidial larvae, which require specific fish species as hosts. Known host species include white sucker, northern hog sucker, shorthead redhorse, rockbass, and warmouth. A. marginata breeds year-round as they retain developing glochidia within marsupia an release them continuously. Dispersal is probably accomplished via glochidia attached to fish hosts (NatureServe 2000).
There is suitable habitat present; this species will be analyzed further.

Lasmigona compressa Creek Heelsplitter Mussel

The creek heel splitter is a brownish mussel with a thin, elongate shell with greenish rays. The lateral teeth are well developed, the posterior ridge is prominent and flattened (blade-like), and it has a double-scooped beak sculpture (Cummings and Mayer 1992). L. compress is well distributed but uncommon, they occur across most of Canada, throughout the Great Lakes and northeast, and south to West Virginia and Kentucky (NatureServe 2000). L. compress preferred habitats are small creeks and the headwaters of small to medium rivers. They are rarely found in large rivers (Cummings and Mayer 1992). They are filter feeders, feeding on small, suspended organic particles. They reproduce with glochidial larvae and require specific fish hosts. The hosts for L. compress glochidia and the breeding season are the spotfin shiner, slimy sculpin, crappie, and perch (Regional Forester, Eastern Region 2002).
There is potential habitat present; this species will be analyzed further.

Lasmigona costata Flutedshell Mussel

This mussel has an elongate, light brown, compressed shell. The posterior slope of the shell has prominent ridges or flutings. The lateral teeth are poorly developed, and those on the left valve are paired (Cummings and Mayer 1992). L. costata is found from Ontario and the Great Lakes in the north to Georgia and Alabama in the south. It extends east to west from Vermont to North Dakota (NatureServe 2000). In spite of its wide distribution, L. costata is not common. Its preferred habitat is medium to large rivers with sand, mud or fine gravel substrates in areas of slow to moderate flow (Cummings and Mayer 1992). They are filter feeders, feeding on small, suspended organic particles. They reproduce with glochidial larvae and require specific fish hosts. Carp, pike, bluegill, bass, perch and walleye are known to be suitable glochidial hosts (Regional Forester, Eastern Region 2002; NatureServe 2000). The natural breeding season is unknown.

There is potential habitat present; this species will be analyzed further.

Ligumia recta Black Sandshell Mussel

The black sandshell has a smooth, elongate shell that is pointed posteriorly. The outer surface of the shell is dark brown or black and the inner surface (nacre) is pinkish or purple (Cummings and Mayer 1992). L. recta is widely distributed, but not common, extending from the Great Lakes region to Saskatchewan, the Dakotas, Georgia and Alabama, and east to Vermont (NatureServe 2000). They prefer riffles or raceways in gravel or firm sand of medium or large rivers (Cummings and Mayer 1992). They are filter feeders, feeding on small, suspended organic particles. They reproduce with glochidial larvae and require specific fish hosts. The known fish hosts include largemouth bass, green sunfish, redbreast sunfish, rockbass, white perch, and yellow perch. The natural breeding season is not known.
There is habitat present; this species will be analyzed further.

In this section the effects discussion will be pooled, rather than discuss each species individually. Pooling the effects discussion is possible because there is some degree of overlap on habitat requirements for the four species discussed in this biological evaluation. As a group mollusks are threatened by a similar set of risk factors. Mollusks are affected by changes in water quality (i.e. changes in water temperature ,usually increasing water temperatures, changes in nutrient levels, changes in dissolved oxygen, and increases in stream sedimentation). The loss of fish host species, collection of mollusks by people, and predation are other factors that can influence the distribution, abundance and viability of mollusk populations. There have been no mollusk surveys conducted in the project area. None of the four species of mollusks discussed in this biological evaluation have been found in the Choate VMP area. Live specimens and shells of the creek heelsplitter were found in a small stream 6 mile east of the project area. It is possible that some or all four species of mollusks may occur in the Choate project area and the effects discussion will deal with the streams in the project area as potential habitat for the four mollusks listed in part 4 of this biological evaluation..

Alternative 1 (No Action Alternative)
There would be no harvesting activities, no road construction, re-construction, maintenance, or decommissioning of roads in the project area, there would be no connected actions including opening maintenance, tag alder regeneration, scarification for natural conifer regeneration, no watershed restoration work, and no fisheries stream habitat improvement work. There would be 4 miles of road maintenance (FR 6950). It is possible that potential habitat exists in the Cisco Branch of the Ontonagon River, the South Branch of the Ontonagon River, Sucker Creek, Redlight Creek and Choate Creek.
There are no proposed harvesting actions in this alternative in the Wild and Scenic River corridors for the Cisco Branch or the South Branch of the Ontonagon River, thus no increases in the level of risk, no increase in water temperature due to canopy removal, no expected hydrological changes in the streams due to human manipulation (i.e. additions of structures or woody debris). Other conditions, like fish host populations, changes in dissolved oxygen, or nutrients are not expected to change in this alternatives.

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