The Utility of Zooarchaeological Data to Guide Listing Efforts for an Imperiled Mussel Species (Bivalvia: Unionidae: Pleurobema Riddellii)

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The status of species in freshwater systems shift over time due to natural and anthropogenic causes. Determining the magnitude and cause of these shifts requires a long-term perspective. This process is complicated when there are also questions about the taxonomic validity of a species. Addressing these issues is important because both can undermine conservation and management efforts if incorrect. Pleurobema riddellii, Louisiana Pigtoe, is under review for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but its status in the Trinity River basin, where the taxon was described, remains in doubt due to questions about its taxonomy and occurrence within this basin. To address these questions, we compared shell morphometrics of P. riddellii dating to the late Holocene with modern P. riddellii, late Holocene Fusconaia sp., and modern Fusconaia sp. using multivariate analyses to test associations between the putative morphotypes. Based on these analyses, we demonstrate that P. riddellii was likely present in the Trinity during the late Holocene, which indicates questions about its taxonomic validity or presence in this basin are unfounded. Our study further highlights the role zooarchaeological studies can play in status assessments and their utility in better understanding biogeographic patterns for rare species.