Date of Graduation

Fall 2007


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

M. Chris Barnhart


Unionidae, glochidia, freshwater mussel, fish hosts, life history

Subject Categories



The rabbitsfoot mussel is a rare and critically endangered species in the upper Arkansas River system of Kansas and Missouri. I compared reproductive biology and life history of three rabbitsfoot populations. These data are needed for management actions and may also be useful in assessing diversity among rabbitsfoot populations. Rabbitsfoot appear to reach sexual maturity at 4-6 years. Fecundity ranged from about 46,000-169,000 larvae per female. I compared potential fish hosts in the Spring River (KS upper Arkansas River system), the Little River (AR Red River system) and the Black River (AR White River system). Blacktail shiner (Cyprinella venusta) from the Black River and Little River and cardinal shiner (Luxilus cardinalis), red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis), spotfin shiner (Cyprinella spiloptera), and bluntface shiner (Cyprinella camura) from the Spring River were suitable hosts for all three rabbitsfoot populations. Variable results were obtained with rosyface shiner (Notropis rubellus), striped shiner (Luxilus chrysocephalus), and emerald shiner (Notropis atherinoides). Reproductive timing differed among the three populations. In the Black River, rabbitsfoot brooded eggs beginning in late May and peaked in early July, while the Spring River, KS rabbitsfoot brooded from mid July to late August. Little River rabbitsfoot brooded from mid June to late July. Spring River glochidia were significantly larger than Black River and Little River glochidia. Although each of these populations appears to be capable of utilizing hosts in the other localities, differences observed in morphology and reproductive timing indicate that they should be managed as separate units.


© Todd B. Fobian

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