Habitat alteration and pollution
The Southern Elktoe or Appalachian Elktoe is a North American endemic freshwater mussel species that has a distinctive kidney-shaped shell that can reach up to 4 inches in size. Its preferred habitat range is on a combination of boulders, gravel, and sand within the cool, moderately-flowing rivers and creeks of North Carolina and Tennessee.
Little is known about its life span, its main diet, and its relationship with other species in its surrounding ecosystem but it is believed that it has similar characteristics with other freshwater mussels which feed mostly on diatoms, detritus, and phytoplankton.
Human activities related to agricultural development and construction work as well as mining and logging contribute to siltation, sedimentation, and massive changes to the aquatic environment.
Because these mussels live very stationary lives, require specific habitat requirements, and are unable to adapt to continuous alteration and pollution their freshwater surroundings are subjected to, continuous population decline is inevitable.