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Wildlife

Fatmucket, heelsplitter and pimpleback are three types of Texas freshwater mussels

Fewer heelsplitters, fatmuckets and pimplebacks signals trouble for Texas rivers

Wildlife populations around the world are declining rapidly, but as our streams and rivers face an onslaught of challenges, the outlook is especially poor for freshwater species. And, near the top of the list of species in trouble are 15 species of colorfully-named Texas mussels. Texas is home to a sizeable portion of the about 300 mussel species native to the U.S., with 53 species of native mussels claiming Texas roots. Unfortunately, we haven’t treated these Texas natives very well, with 15 of those species currently listed as threatened by the State of Texas. Although being listed by the state wins mussels a little extra attention, it actually provides very little legal protection. In...

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Galveston Bay needs thriving oysters. Here’s how you can help.

If you’ve ever visited the Texas Gulf Coast, it’s probably no surprise that the Galveston Bay isn’t just the most productive bay in Texas – it’s also considered one of the most productive in the nation. Despite this, the Bay is up against real challenges, including a gradual loss of its oysters. The Eastern Oyster, or Crassostrea virginica, is common in Galveston Bay and considered a “keystone species.” This means that Eastern Oysters are essential to the Bay for several reasons, one of which is that many fish and wildlife would struggle to survive without them. Hurricane Harvey’s total impact on Galveston Bay oysters is still unclear. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s oyster restoration specialist,...

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Invader zebra mussels threaten our native Texas species

Zebra mussels, a species native to the Black and Caspian Seas, were first identified in Texas in 2009. Now, only eight years later, these mussels have spread over five different river basins and infested 11 Texas lakes: Belton, Bridgeport, Canyon, Dean Gilbert, Eagle Mountain, Lewisville, Randell, Ray Roberts, Stillhouse Hollow, Texoma, and Travis. As innocuous as these striped invaders may seem, their rapid expansion across Texas doesn’t just put a damper on boating – it puts our state’s native mussel species at risk. Map of invasive zebra mussel findings in Texas. Courtesy of TPWD Why do our native mussels matter? Texas is home to 53 of the 300 species of mussels...

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