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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Higgins Eye (Lampsilis higginsii)



Higgins Eye (Lampsilis higginsi), listed as both State and Federally Endangered, 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 occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Lampsilis higginsii in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
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.



Higgins Eye

Photo ©  Illinois Natural History Survey.

Higgins Eye

Photo by Lisie Kitchell, WDNR.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Higgins Eye. Only natural communities for which Higgins Eye is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Natural community Score
Warmwater rivers 3

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Higgins Eye. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Higgins Eye occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020