This blog is a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series on the Mississippi River Gorge.
Mussels – the Brita filters of the animal world – are the most endangered animal in North America due to habitat degradation in rivers.
In this video, the female federally-endangered snuffbox mussel hides in the gravel bed waiting for a common logperch to flip it like a pebble. When the logperch touches the female snuffbox, she grabs the fish by the nose while ejecting her baby glochidia, who will attach themselves to the logperch’s gills to feed until they grow large enough to settle in a gravel bed.
Not to worry! The logperch is unharmed by the encounter.
No other small fish can survive the snuffbox’s attention, making the logperch its obligate host. In other words, the mussel is totally dependent on the logperch for the survival of its species.
While the snuffbox mussel and the logperch lived in the Mississippi River Gorge historically, the habitat is not suitable today because of two dams.