Freshwater mussels have the some of the highest rates of extinction of all freshwater organisms in the world. In Texas, 15 species are listed as state threatened, while 12 are pending review for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Freshwater mussels play important roles in ecosystem maintenance through nutrient cycling, stabilizing stream-bed substrates and increasing habitat diversity. Population declines can have significant impacts to an ecosystem’s structure and function.

In Texas, the lack of basic biological information on freshwater mussels, such as life history, taxonomy, reproductive biology and habitat, use limits conservation and recovery efforts. Since 2011, NRI’s freshwater mussel research program has provided information on mussel taxonomy, population distribution and ranges, and other science-based knowledge and solutions for state and federal natural resource agencies.

The centerpiece of our program is a 2,000-square-foot wet lab located at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas. To name a few, current research efforts include studies on:

  • mussel reproductive biology,
  • thermal and salinity tolerances, and
  • molecular analyses. 

Data from these projects will help inform listing efforts, protect rare mussel species and promote aquatic ecosystem conservation.

Charles Randklev

As a research scientist for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute sin, Dr. Charles Randklev works on issues related to freshwater mussel conservation. His research expertise is unionid ecology with research interests …

Roel Lopez

As director for the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute, Dr. Roel Lopez provides leadership in the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management. Roel works with internal and external stakeholders in develop…


    Showing off our mussels with AgriLife Vice Chancellor

    Vice Chancellor Dr. Stover, who joined Texas A&M in March and was also sole finalist for director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, met with Dallas Center and NRI leadership late August on a two-day tour of the construction and integral initiatives within the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas. 

    Dallas Center scientists study Texas' first federally endangered mussel species

    Texas A&M AgriLife scientists are working to better understand the ecology and taxonomy of Texas freshwater mussels. These mussels play critically important roles in freshwater ecosystems and have beneficial impacts on human health, making them a high priority for conservation. Fifteen species have previously been classified as "threatened," and now one--the Texas hornshell mussel--is officially listed as "endangered."

    Mussels Matter: Research team increasing knowledge of mussels, txH2O

    Though zebra mussels in Texas give mussels a bad name, other freshwater mussels are welcomed and needed in Texas waters.

    Invasive zebra mussels, first confirmed in Texas in 2009, are causing major economic and environmental damages to Texas reservoirs. But unionid mussels, a family of freshwater mussels, are important indicators of water quality and stream health and play an important role in freshwater ecosystems, according to Dr. Charles Randklev, research scientist for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR).

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