Ed Golson Outdoor Education

Northern Riffleshell

Scientific Name: Epioblasma rangiana

Description: The northern riffleshell is a medium sized mollusk. Its shell grows to between 2 to 3 inches long and is usually brownish-yellow in color. It is also covered with many narrow green stripes. They can live up to Northern Riffleshell Photo 1 15 years in the wild.

Habitat: The northern riffleshell originally inhabited the Ohio River valley and much of the eastern Great Lakes. Today, the range of this mussel has been reduced by almost 95%. Only a few small populations in Michigan and Ontario are left. Riffleshells live in rivers that have water that is filled with oxygen. They prefer to live where the riverbed is rocky or sandy.

Feeding: Like most mussels, riffleshells eat by filtering bacteria and other small organic particles out of the water.

Why Are They Endangered? Riffleshells need to live in waters that are clear and free from silt. Human activity has made these waters few and far between. Riffleshells have also been hurt by the introduction of the zebra mussel, which can out compete the riffleshell for food and space.