Texas Hornshell

The Texas hornshell is a freshwater mussel native to the Rio Grande watershed. Long rare, the mollusk was declared federally endangered in 2018, based on concerns about dams, diversions, groundwater pumping, siltation, salinity, sewage discharges, and the prospects of climate change.


Narrator: Lyubov BurlakovaTitle: SewageDuration: 00:02:30Date: January 26, 2024Dr. Lyubov Burlakova, a senior research scientist at the Great Lakes Center in Buffalo, New York, has many years' experience studying freshwater mussels, including the rare Texas hornshell. Here she explains the danger that poor water quality, and particularly, sewage from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, pose to the few remaining populations of the hornshell.Narrator: Lyubov BurlakovaTitle: FrackingDuration: 00:01:41Date: January 26, 2024Dr. Lyubov Burlakova is a freshwater mussel expert at the Great Lakes Center in Buffalo, New York, and has spent a number of years surveying and studying mollusks in Texas, including the Texas hornshell. She sees risks to the rare hornshell from active oil and gas fracking in the few remaining areas of its habitat, due to impacts from dewatering and the chance of chemical spills.Narrator: Bob HowellsTitle: Harvest LimitsDuration: 00:05:01Date: January 15, 2024Bob Howells, a state fisheries biologist who worked for many years at the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center, developed regulations for protecting freshwater mussels. In the early 1990s, he designed Texas state licenses, permits and sanctuaries so that the mussels, especially rare ones, could be well guarded, even without endangered or threatened status.Narrator: Bob HowellsTitle: Other InterestsDuration: 00:02:19Date: January 15, 2024Freshwater mussels have been undergoing a long and steep decline in Texas and elsewhere. Some, such as the Texas hornshell, have even been declared endangered recently. Here, Bob Howells, a long-time fisheries biologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife, describes how competitive bass fishing and commercial tilapia raising were just a couple of the major political and economic pressures that distracted the agency from more focus on mussels.Narrator: Alexander KaratayevTitle: VulnerabilitiesDuration: 00:02:11Date: February 1, 2024Alexander "Sasha" Karatayev is a professor and director at the Great Lakes Center at SUNY-Buffalo. He has spent many years studying Unionids (freshwater mussels) around the world, including the endangered Texas hornshell found in the Rio Grande basin. Here he explains why Unionid populations are suffering globally, and need public support for their protection.Narrator: Tom MillerTitle: High and DryDuration: 00:01:51Date: January 12, 2024Tom Miller, the founding director of the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center at Laredo Community College, has been a long-time student and steward of freshwater mussels. Here he tells how the construction of dams in the Rio Grande basin, including the Elephant Butte reservoir in New Mexico, and seven dams on the Concho River in Mexico, has left the endangered Texas hornshell mussel high and dry and in decline throughout much of its former range.Narrator: Charles RandklevTitle: SaltDuration: 00:03:09Date: January 24, 2024Charles Randklev is a research assistant professor at the Texas A&M Resources Institute, and a long-time student of freshwater mussels, including the endangered Texas hornshell. Here he tells about surveys in the Pecos River and followup studies that together helped show that the hornshell has been suffering from rising salinity in its home streams over the past 30 to 40 years, due to reduced spring and stream inflows.