eastern elliptio



Eastern elliptio


(Elliptio complanata)

Photo courtesy of E. Nedeau

NH Conservation Status: Not listed

State Rank Status: Secure (global – Secure)

Distribution: All major watersheds in NH.  Click here to see which watersheds and/or waterbodies the species has been documented.

Description: Highly variable in coloration, size, and shape. A medium-sized mussel up to 5 inches, from tan to brown or black.  The foot is white.

Commonly Confused Species: Eastern pearlshell, creeper, eastern lampmussel

Habitat: Found in lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers in all substrate types. Not likely to occur in high gradient streams where no other mussels occur.

Life History: Uses a large number of host fish including yellow and white perch, large- and smallmouth bass, sunfish, and pickerel.

Conservation Threats: Species is secure.  The eastern elliptio is by far the most common species of freshwater mussel in NH.  The species has an important role in filtering water and nutrient cycling and therefore water quality.  Because of the species abundance and important role as both prey and water filtration, this species is among the most valuable benthic organisms to local ecosystems.

elliptio variety
The eastern elliptio can vary considerably in size, shape, and color. Photo by M. Marchand.
elliptio abundance
The eastern elliptio is the most common mussel in NH reaching incredible densities in some areas. Photo by E. Nedeau
elliptio dead

The eastern elliptio is fairly tolerant of a range of water conditions.  However, high water temperatures were too much for even this elliptio to survive. Photo by M. Marchand.


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