One of the greatest threats to the orangefoot pimpleback, and other freshwater mussels in North America, is the invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) (7). Hundreds to thousands of minute zebra mussels can attach to the shell of native mussels, which can eventually kills the contaminated individual by interfering with its ability to feed, respire, excrete, and move (7).
Orangefoot pimpleback populations are also threatened by intensive agriculture and increasing urbanisation, particularly due to the heavy loadings of silt, sediments, nutrients and pollution that they cause, which destroy mussel habitats, clog their gills, and reduce water quality (3) (7).
Dams and water impoundments are particularly harmful to freshwater mussels as their construction and presence degrades habitats and eliminates the ability of populations to disperse, subsequently isolating them (3). Between the 1930s and 1980s, 51 impoundments were built in the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers (3), which contain some of the last remaining populations of the orangefoot pimpleback (3) (5).