UT Tyler receives $114K grant for mussel conservation

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The University of Texas at Tyler (UTT) received a $114,000 from various organizations to further conservation efforts of freshwater mussels in Louisiana.

UT Tyler receives $180K grant towards crayfish preservation

Dr. Neil Ford, professor emeritus of UT Tyler, courtesy of UT Tyler
Dr. Neil Ford, professor emeritus of UT Tyler, courtesy of UT Tyler

According to a statement, UTT received funds for the conservation project from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the State Wildlife Grant Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The University said that Dr. Neil Ford, a UTT professor emeritus of biology, will serve as the principal investigator for the two-year research project.

UTT said that Ford will be leading a Houston-based team that works extensively with the freshwater mussels, and the research’s goal will be “to provide an update on the distribution, abundance and diversity of freshwater mussels in the Ouachita and Tensas River Basins, as well as assist with identification and monitoring of mussel hot spots in Bayou Bartholomew.”

“Freshwater mussels are important as natural filters of our rivers, yet are in serious decline,” Ford said. “These animals clean our rivers and streams by filtering out contaminants, such as nitrogen, and if they are declining then something is wrong. They are like the ‘canary in a coal mine.’ We have damaged most of the rivers in several ways but ultimately, we drink that water.”

Ford included that there are more than 300 species of freshwater mussels in North America and that Louisiana is home to 65 of those, little is known of their current numbers.

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