Conservation Matters August 2016

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Symposium brings mollusk experts together to discuss research

By Kathy Wythe

Symposium brings mollusk experts together to discuss research The symposium concluded with mussel field sampling in the Sabine River. Photo courtesy of Dr. Charles Randklev, IRNR.

More than 75 scientists, students and others heard from experts on topics related to mollusk conservation during the Texas Mollusk Symposium Aug. 8-11 in Dallas. The symposium was a collaborative effort of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), University of Texas at Tyler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR).

Presented topics included Endangered Species Act updates for threatened Texas freshwater mussels, physiological and behavioral studies to inform environmental flow efforts around the state, sampling protocols to improve monitoring efforts for rare freshwater mussel species, and the status of zebra mussels in Texas, among others.

Dr. Charles Randklev, IRNR’s research scientist, principal investigator of IRNR’s aquatic research facility in Dallas and one of the symposium organizers, said the symposium is a great opportunity for stakeholders, researchers and private industry to share mollusk-related research and discuss natural resource issues.

Guest speakers included Tim Birdsong, TPWD; Dr. Roel Lopez, IRNR; and Dr. Jim Stoeckel, Auburn University.

“Conservation meetings like the symposium are critical for managing and conserving natural resources because stakeholders, whether they be state or federal agencies or private industry, are able to discuss research priorities and coordinate conservation efforts,” he said. “The goal in the near future is to take the information discussed at these meetings and begin to develop a comprehensive statewide management plan for mollusks.”

During the three-day event, students and professional biologists presented their research. Student awards were given to Tracy Popejoy of the University of Oklahoma, who received the Dr. Artie Metcalf Research Award for best student research proposal, and to Jennifer Morton of Texas A&M and IRNR, who received the Dr. Raymond Neck Conservation Graduate Student Award for best student presentation.

The symposium is held every other year, with a workshop on identifying and sampling freshwater mussels offered in the years in-between.

For more information, contact Randklev at crandklev@ag.tamu.edu.

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