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."
Texas freshwater mussel research
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. Current research efforts include studies on:
- mussel reproductive biology,
- thermal and salinity tolerances, and
- molecular analyses to name a few.
Current research efforts include studies on mussel reproductive biology, thermal and salinity tolerances, and molecular analyses, to name a few. Data from these projects will help inform listing efforts, protect rare mussel species and promote aquatic ecosystem conservation.
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 …
Dr. Kentaro Inoue is an assistant research scientist at the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute. Kentaro is an evolutionary and conservation biologist with a passion for freshwater molluscs (mussels and snails) and crus…
Misidentification of sex for Lampsilis teres, Yellow Sandshell, and its implications for mussel conservation and wildlife management
Megan C. Hess, Kentaro Inoue, Eric T. Tsakiris, Michael Hart, Jennifer Morton, Jack Dudding, Clinton R. Robertson, Charles R. Randklev
Prioritizing sites for conservation based on similarity to historical baselines and feasibility of protection
Traci Popejoy, Charles R. Randklev, Thomas M. Neeson, and Caryn C. Vaughn
Molecular and morphometric analyses reveal cryptic diversity within freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) of the western Gulf coastal drainages of the USA
Anna M Pieri, Kentaro Inoue, Nathan Johnson, Chase Smith, John Harris, Clinton R. Robertson, Charles Randklev
Novel technique to identify large river host fish for freshwater mussel propagation and conservation
Michael A. Hart, Wendell R. Haag, Robert Bringolf, James A. Stoeckel
An interpretive framework for assessing freshwater mussel taxonomic abundances in zooarchaeological faunas
T. Popejoy, S. Wolverton, L. Nagaoka, C.R. Randklev
Conservation implications of late Holocene freshwater mussel remains of the Leon River in central Texas
T. Popejoy, C.R. Randklev, S. Wolverton, L. Nagaoka
Structural Changes in Freshwater Mussel (Bivalvia: Unionidae) Assemblages Downstream of Lake Somerville, Texas
E.T. Tsakiris, C.R. Randklev
Generic reclassification and species boundaries in the rediscovered freshwater mussel ‘Quadrula’ mitchelli (Simpson in Dall, 1896)
J. M. Pfeiffer,N. A. Johnson. C. R. Randklev, R. G. Howells, J. D. Williams
Land use relationships for a rare freshwater mussel species (Family: Unionidae) endemic to central Texas
C. R. Randklev, H-H Wang, J. E. Groce, W. E. Grant, S. Robertson, N. Wilkins
Distribution of extant populations of Quadrula mitchelli (false spike)
C.R. Randklev, E.T. Tsakiris, R.G. Howells, J. Groce, M.S. Johnson, J. Bergmann, C. Robertson, A. Blair, B. Littrell, and N. Johnson
New distributional records for four rare freshwater mussel species (Family: Unionidae) in southwestern Louisiana
C.R. Randklev, J. Skorupski, B.J. Lundeen, and E.T. Tsakiris
Is False Spike, Quadrula mitchelli (Bivalvia: Unionidae), extinct? First account of a very-recently deceased individual in over thirty years
C.R. Randklev, E.T. Tsakiris, M.S. Johnson, J. Skorupski, L.E. Burlakova , J. Groce, and N. Wilkins
Status of the freshwater mussel (Unionidae) communities of the mainstem of the Leon River, Texas
C.R. Randklev, M.S. Johnson, E.T. Tsakiris, J. Groce, N. Wilkins
New and confirmed fish hosts for the threatened freshwater mussel Lampsilis bracteata
M.S. Johnson, P.D. Caccavale, C.R. Randklev, and J.R. Gibson
Taxonomic Status of Pigtoe Unionids in Texas
R. G. Howells, C. R. Randklev, N. B. Ford
First account of a living population of False Spike, Quadrula mitchelli (Bivalvia: Unionidae), in the Guadalupe River, Texas
C.R. Randklev, M.S. Johnson, E.T. Tsakiris, S. Rogers-Oetker, K.J. Roe, S. McMurray, C. Robertson, J. Groce, N. Wilkins
Mantle flap variation in Texas Fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteata)
R.G. Howells, C.R. Randklev, M.S. Johnson
Status of Freshwater Mussels in Texas
K. Winemiller, N. K. Lujan, R. N. Wilkins, R. T. Snelgrove, A. M. Dube, K. L. Skow, A. G. Snelgrove
Jennifer Morton hovers methodically over a row of clear, water-filled containers on a tight-spaced industrial shelving system. She plucks a mollusk from one of the containers, observing the specimen as part of a study on freshwater mussel tolerances.
Megan Hess, an assistant researcher looking into declining mussel populations, was recognized this past week for her ongoing work to determine the ratio of male to female freshwater mussels among certain critically imperiled species.
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).
It's not every day we have picture perfect proof to back some of our wildlife research predation theories. Looks like we've been dealt a different hand in luck lately.