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Mussel woman: Researcher looks into declining Texas mussel populations – AgriLife Today

DALLAS – 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.

The activity is part of an ongoing effort at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas to address declining freshwater mussel populations across the state – a trend that could signal declining health in Texas’ river systems, Morton said.

Jen Morton (right) and fellow researcher Ana Pieri (left) collect freshwater mussels in the Guadalupe River for a field sampling study. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Gabe Saldana)

“Freshwater mussels provide a service to the ecosystem as filter feeders,” she said. “They help to clean the water, filter sediment, and contribute to nutrient cycling. They draw nutrients from the water and make them available to other organisms.”

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