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Rich Staffen
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Higgins' Eye (Lampsilis higginsii)



Higgin's eye (Lampsilis higginsi), a mussel listed as Endangered at the Federal and State level, is found in large rivers in the western part of the state. It is found in flowing waters with various stable substrate types but seems to prefer stable sand. Several common fish species have been recorded as its host, including drum, large and small mouth bass, walleye, and sauger.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Higgins' Eye (Lampsilis higginsii). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Lampsilis higginsii in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of March 2012.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in WisconsinLE
State RankS1
Global RankG1G2
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Higgins' Eye (Lampsilis higginsii) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or an NHI Zoologist for specific recommendations for your site.

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication PUB-ER-085-99 (now out-of-print).

Identification: Shell is thick and heavy, oval, elliptical or rhomboid. The anterior end is rounded and the posterior end is bluntly pointed in the male and truncated in the female. The beak is directed forward, swollen and elevated. The outer surface is yellowish-brown to olive-brown with faint to distinct green rays. Lateral teeth are thick. Nacre is silvery-white and sometimes pink. Length to 4 inches (10.2 cm).

Habitat: Inhabits deeper waters of rivers and large streams with gravel or sand substrates.

State Distribution: Occurs in the Mississippi, lower Wisconsin, and St.Croix Rivers.

Phenology: Glochidia from this species have been found on largemouth bass (Micropteris salmoides) and walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) in July and sauger (S. canadense) in October. Other fish reported as hosts are bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellis), freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens), northern pike (Esox lucius),smallmouth bass (Micropteris dolomieu), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens). Breeding season is from July through October.

Management Guidelines: Habitat destruction and river pollution have resulted in mussel declines. Protection of habitat and improvements in water quality along with restriction of dredging, impoundments, sand and gravel mining, and navigational improvements would benefit this species.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a recovery plan for the Higgin's eye.

Photos / Video


Higgins' Eye  [Photo #13716]

Photo ©  Illinois Natural History Survey.

Higgins' Eye  [Photo #937]

Photo by Lisie Kitchell, WDNR.

Last revised: Tuesday, October 07, 2014