Animal Conservation

Flint RiverQuarium Joins ASU and UGA in Mussel Conservation Project | Local


ALBANY – In collaboration with Albany State University and the University of Georgia, the Flint RiverQuarium has joined conservation partners in research to help recover and protect the aquatic resources of the River Basin. Flint river.

The first project is a pilot study of mussel host fish from the Flint River, using wild-caught fish to identify mussel species that use each fish species as a host. Fish are currently being held at the Flint RiverQuarium for the next few weeks while mussel larvae, called glochidia, and juvenile mussels are collected.

Visitors can see ASU research students at work in a temporary lab located in the Flint RiverQuarium gift shop. Genetic analysis using PCR procedures at Albany State University and subsequent DNA sequencing in a commercial laboratory will identify the mussel species.

This pilot research project will assess local mussel-fish host relationships. The Flint River is home to 28 species of freshwater mussels, but 40% of the host fish species are unknown.

Freshwater mussels use mobile host fish to travel and complete their life cycle. Fertilized mussel eggs attach to a host fish, form a cyst, and cling as fish move through streams, rivers, or lakes, usually within a few weeks. When ready, the mussels emerge from the cyst as juveniles and drop off. Then they burrow into the bottom of the stream or lake. Here they will become adults and spend the next 10, 20 years or, for some species, up to 60 to 100 years of their life.

Considered ecosystem engineers because of their profound impacts on the quality and function of waterways, freshwater mussels are a vital part of the Flint River ecosystem. Freshwater mussels, filterers, are a key element in the food web of aquatic ecosystems. They also remove airborne particles and pollutants from the water column and help improve water quality for other animals, including humans.

Some mussels can filter up to 10 gallons of water per day. Mussels are also biological indicators or monitors of past and present water quality conditions in rivers and lakes.

Additional rounds of fish and mussel collection are planned for 2021, with details determined by information gathered from research and processing of current samples. The processing of samples and the analysis of results could extend until spring 2022.

In addition to the Flint RiverQuarium, Albany State University, and the University of Georgia, research partners for the pilot include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, and the Jones Center in Ichauway. The project is funded by the ASU-Flint RiverQuarium partnership, the US Department of Education, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

ASU faculty and student participation and Flint RiverQuarium activities advance the research and education goals of the ASU-Flint RiverQuarium partnership

The Flint RiverQuarium is Southwest Georgia’s premier aquarium, with over 1,000 animals that inhabit the Flint River watershed. The Flint RiverQuarium is located at 101 Pine Ave. in downtown Albany. Regular opening hours are daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details, visit

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