COLLEGE STATION Researchers from the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources have discovered fresh remains of a freshwater mussel species thought to be extinct in Texas, according to a research associate with the institute.
Dr. Charles Randklev said his research team found a single individual of false spike "Quadrula mitchelli" with tissue still in the shell which indicates that the individual was recently alive in the San Saba River in Central Texas. Mussel thought to be extinct found in Texas river.
Researchers with the Texas A&M Institute for Renewable Natural Resources recently found this false spike freshwater mussel in the San Saba River in Central Texas. The species was thought to be extinct, but the specimen had apparently only recently died and there was still tissue inside the shell. (Photo courtesy of Texas AgriLife Research)
"Based on this finding, it is likely that the false spike may not be extinct and small populations may exist in the San Saba River," said Randklev, who holds a joint appointment with Texas AgriLife Research.
Randklev said this is the first hard evidence of the false spike found in the last 30 years. The only other recent evidence was in 2000 when two specimens without soft tissue were collected in the San Marcos River.
Historically, false spike inhabited the Rio Grande, Guadalupe, San Antonio, Colorado and Brazos river basins, according to Randklev.
The researchers also found significant populations of three threatened Texas freshwater mussel species Texas pimpleback "Quadrula petrina," smooth pimpleback "Quadrula houstonensis" and Texas fawnsfoot "Truncilla macrodon" in the San Saba River.
"We documented the largest known population for Texas pimpleback and the second largest population for Texas fawnsfoot in Texas," Randklev said. "We collected juveniles for all three species, indicating recent recruitment or reproduction."
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Texas A&M AgriLife Communications