Carolina Creekshell (I. Lea, 1838)

Scientific Name: Villosa vaughaniana

Classification:  State Endangered

Photo Credit: NCWRC
   

Interior

 

Exterior 

NOTE: Hover over the bold words for definitions or see the Glossary.

This species was described by Isaac Lea in 1838. The Carolina creekshell is sexually dimorphic. In males, the ventral margin is curved from anterior to posterior producing an elliptical shell shape; while, in females, the posterior end is expanded to accommodate the marsupium so that the shell shape is somewhat trapezoidal. The periostracum is usually golden brown with narrow green rays but may become dark brown or black with age. There are two pseudocardinal teeth in each valve. The lateral teeth are well developed; two in the left valve, one in the right valve. The nacre is white to bluish-white and iridescent; some shells may have a salmon wash along the ventral margin.

The Carolina creekshell can be confused with the Eastern creekshell, Villosa delumbis, but the two may be distinguished by a number of characters. The periostracum is usually yellow in V. delumbis, golden brown in V. vaughaniana. V. delumbis usually has wide broken rays rather than complete rays as seen on V. vaughaniana. Finally, the marsupium of V. delumbis has a dark margin;while, it is ivory colored in V.vaughaniana.

 

Shell Anatomy

 
The range of the Carolina creekshell includes the Catawba and Yadkin-Pee Dee river basins in North and South Carolina, and Upper Cape Fear River Basin in North Carolina.

Distribution by County: Cape Fear River Basin: Alamance Co. (Mary's Creek Subbasin); Moore Co. (Bear Creek Subbasin); Chatham Co. (Rocky River Subbasin). Pee Dee River Basin: Cabarrus Co. (Dutch Buffalo, Clark, and Back creek subbasins); Mecklenburg Co. (Goose and Mallard creek subbasins); Montgomery Co. (Uwharrie and Little river subbasins, including the following named streams: Uwharrie,Little, and W. Fork Little rivers, and Poison Fork, Barnes, Lick, Denson's, Doomas, Bridger's, and Rocky creeks); Randolph Co. (Uwharrie and Little river subbasins, including the following named streams: Uwharrie and Little rivers, and Carraway, Jackson, Toms, Second, Betty McGees, and N. Fork Hannah's creeks); Richmond Co. (Big Mountain Creek Subbasin); Union Co. (Goose, Lanes, Richardson, and Crooked creek subbasins ); Stanly County (Long, Big Bear, Stony, Little Mountain, and Mountain creek subbasins). Catawba River Basin: Mecklenburg/Union county line (Six Mile Creek Subbasin). NOTE: All headwater areas that flow into these occupied habitats should receive special management.

 


The Carolina creekshell is usually found in silty sand or clay along the banks of small streams. In areas of abundance, they have also been found occupying substrates of mixed sand and gravel.

This species is bradytictic; fish hosts are unknown at this time. 

 

General Life History For Mussels