Native Freshwater Mussel Surveillance on the Osage Reservation
April 12, 2011

The Osage Nation Environmental and Natural Resources Department was awarded the Tribal Wildlife Grant, funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  The project title is “Osage Nation Native Freshwater Mussel Project:  Are They Being Impacted by the Zebra Mussel?” 

The implementation of this project includes the surveillance of all freshwater mussels located on the Reservation and reintroduction of the Neosho mucket (Lampsilis rafinesqueana).  An emphasis is to determine if native freshwater mussels are being impacted by the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), an invasive species of freshwater mussel that has been located on the Osage Nation Reservation.  The zebra mussel has the ability to attach to objects, many of which are native freshwater mussels, causing the morbidity of individual native freshwater mussels through an interference with feeding, growth, movement, respiration, and reproduction.  Reintroduction efforts will focus on the Neosho mucket, as the Neosho mucket is an Oklahoma Endangered Species and is currently a federal candidate to be listed as Endangered.  Neosho muckets were historically found on the Osage Reservation.   

There are 297 species and subspecies of freshwater mussels native to the United States.  According to the University of Oklahoma, of the total freshwater species and subspecies, 19 species are extinct, 62 are listed as federally endangered or threatened, and 130 are in need of conservation status.  It is estimated that 45 species of freshwater mussels will become extinct within the next 10 years.  If freshwater mussels become extinct, aquatic ecosystems will ultimately be altered.  Native freshwater mussels purify water, as they are filter-feeders.  Native freshwater mussels are a source of food for other species, such as the otter, raccoon, and muskrat, all of which can be found on the Osage Nation Reservation.  

Native freshwater mussels are also an important cultural aspect to the Osage Nation people.  One clan of the Osage Nation had a life symbol which was the freshwater mussel.  This clan was named Wah sha rah scah, which means White Osage.  This clan is no longer in existence, but native freshwater mussels continue to be an important species on the Osage Nation Reservation.  Through the Tribal Wildlife Grant project, creating a baseline assessment of the native freshwater mussel population will help manage and protect this valuable resource found on the Osage Nation Reservation.

The project coordinator for the Tribal Wildlife Grant is Jann S. Rose, Natural Resource Specialist.  If there are any questions or comments regarding this project, please contact Jann at (918) 287-5531 or