GPNC logo   Western Fanshell

Western Fanshell
Western Fanshell - photo by Bob Gress

Western Fanshell

Cyprogenia aberti

The Western Fanshell is one of four mussel species found in Kansas that are known only from the Ozark region.  The other three are the Neosho Mucket (Lampsilis rafinesqueana), Ellipse (Venustaconcha ellipsiformis) and Ouachita Kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus occidentalis).  All four are also on the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species list.  The Western Fanshell is the Ozarkian cousin of the Federally endangered Fanshell (Cyprogenia stegaria) found east of the Mississippi River in the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland watersheds.

A recent DNA study on the Western Fanshell indicates some unexpectedly large diversity within the four major watersheds where it occurs (Arkansas, Ouachita, White and St. Francis river systems).  Also, the populations in the Black River of Missouri seem to have a strong resemblance to C. stegaria.  Further work will be needed to determine the exact nature of these populations.

This mussel has a beautiful pattern of green rays on its light brown shell.  The pattern is visible in older specimens, but is most distinctive in younger individuals.   It also has a prominent ridge on the posterior slope of the shell.  Seeing this pattern on a living or recently dead specimen distinguishes it from any other Kansas mussel species.  The Western Fanshell never gets very large - only reaching shell lengths of 92 mm (3 5/8 inches).

The known host fishes of this species include the banded sculpin, fantail darter and logperch.  It releases its glochidia as a worm-like conglutinate.  For more information on the host relationship see Dr. Chris Barnhart's web site.

RANGE AND STATUS IN KANSAS: Found only in the Spring, Fall and Verdigris rivers in Kansas.  Kansas has the only protected refuge containing this species.  It is typically found in shallow gravel riffles. 
For more information and a distribution map, see the species entry in the Mussel Bed.  ENDANGERED

RANGE IN NORTH AMERICA: Restricted to southeastern Kansas, southern Missouri and western Arkansas.  It is apparently extirpated from Oklahoma.  NO FEDERAL LISTING: NATIONAL HERITAGE RANK = N2 (IMPERILED)

Up Giant Floater Pistolgrip Washboard Western Fanshell White Heelsplitter

- This page was spun by Jim Mason -

Questions or comments?  Send Email to Jim Mason Spidey
Or write us at: 
Great Plains Nature Center
6232 E. 29th Street North
Wichita, KS 67220-2200             Call:  316-683-5499            Fax:  316-688-9555