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Professor Wins Grant to Assess Mussel Population

August 26, 2013

Laurie Morrissey
Communications and Marketing

Professor Barry WicklowThe survival of the brook floater mussel, once common from Nova Scotia to Georgia, is threatened. Biology Professor Barry Wicklow is on the case, with the help of a federal grant, a former student, and a few current students who don't mind getting their feet wet.

Wicklow received a grant for $72,940 from the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) Regional Conservation Needs Grant Program, as well as non-federal matching funds including in-kind services and waived costs of $89,748, for a total of $162,688.

The goal of the project is to assess the conservation status of the brook floater: specifically, trends in its distribution, occurrence, and condition. The information Wicklow gathers will be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the brook floaters should be placed on the federal endangered species list.

Ceara Talbot, a biology major from Hooksett, N.H., worked alongside her professor on the Suncook River in North Chichester this summer, measuring and tagging the mussels. The field experience has been valuable, she says, since she is working toward a career in wildlife conservation.

Wicklow is concerned with the population's decline because the species has an important role in the ecosystem. The mussels filter large volumes of water, helping to clean the streams and ponds.

"To let another species become extinct would create additional loss of biodiversity, which can create an unstable environment," he says.  

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