Genus Elliptio

Family Unionidae

Genus Status

Status:

Widespread and abundant, utilizing a variety of hosts, and occuring in most watersheds in the metro area, Elliptio complanata is one of our most familiar freshwater mussels. A second common and widely adapted species of Elliptio, E. dilatata, reaches western New York State drainages but is not recorded from the metro area.

Species Summaries

Species summary

Elliptio complanata (Lightfoot, 1786)
eastern elliptio

 
 

Features:

size: 100mm (may reach 125mm)
beak: trapezoidal sculpture, low and uninflated
color patterns: fine green color rays only in young individuals; periostracum may be yellowish, brownish or blackish; may have purple nacre
shape: sub-trapeziodal, may be compressed or inflated
shell features: angular posterior ridge, prominent posterior slope
teeth: well-developed triangular pseudocardinals, two in left valve and one in right valve, with rough surfaces; long, sharp laterals

Status:

abundance: abundant, often the most abundant unionid present
status: US, NY, NJ, CT: not legally protected
conservation challenges: Careful monitoring of this and all other freshwater mussel species should be done on a regular basis

Distribution:

N.A. distribution: Nova Scotia (Canada) to Georgia; northern parts of the Great Lakes basin from Lake Ontario to the Lake Superior drainage
present metro distribution: throughout the metro region
other regional localities: NY: all watershed drainages except the Allegheny River, Eastern Lake Erie and the Lake Erie watershed, and most of the Niagara River basin above the falls; NJ: all watersheds; CT: all major watersheds

easternelliptiosmall

Life History:

habitat: All types of natural freshwater bodies Habitat Photo
hosts: Perca flavescens (Mitchill, 1814) yellow perch, is the only verified host; other, suspected hosts include Fundulus diaphanus (Lesueur, 1817) banded killifish; Lepomis cyanellus (Rafinesque, 1819) green sunfish; Lepomis humilo (Girard, 1858) orange-spotted sunfish; Micropterus salmoides (Lacepede, 1802) largemouth bass; Pomoxis annularis (Rafinesque, 1818) white crappie

 

Plates

E. complanata

left view

left view


right view

right view


dorsal view 

dorsal view 


profile view;shape sub-trapezoidal

profile view;
shape sub-trapezoidal


 
nacre may be purplish

nacre may be purplish


pseudocardinals triangular

pseudocardinals triangular


beak sculpture double-looped

beak sculpture double-looped


lateral and pseudocardinal teeth strongly developed 

lateral and pseudocardinal teeth strongly developed