The Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center (FMCC) at Virginia Tech is a cooperative research and propagation facility to restore and recover endangered freshwater mollusks in Virginia and adjacent states. Beginning in 1978, the Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, U.S. Geological Survey, began life history research on a suite of recently listed endangered mussels. Numerous graduate student theses and dissertations over roughly a 20-year period provided the knowledge and expertise to implement a propagation program. In 1997, the first propagated juveniles of a federally endangered species were released to augment reproduction in that population. In 2000, a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and matching funds from other agencies, allowed us to construct a 2700 ft 2 building and pond complex to enhance our conservation work. Over the last 10 years, the annual production of juveniles has gradually increased, such that we typically produce roughly 10,000 or more juveniles of 6-10 species each year for release to rivers.

The addition of a grow-out building in 2007 that uses recirculating pond water has allowed us to produce larger juvenile mussels for the recovery effort. Staff at FMCC includes a research scientist, 3 salaried employees, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist, and several undergraduate employees each summer. The Center is open to visitors and is an integral research component of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.







Members of The Nature Conservancy and Lincoln Memorial University students released rare freshwater mussels into the Powell River in Claiborne County in an effort to keep the native species off the endangered list.

Video:The Powell River in Tazewell, Tenn., gets infusion of freshwater mussels in restoration effort (Knoxville News)

Video: Mussels released to help grow population (WBIR)

Video:LMU students release rare mussels into the Powell River


Congressman Griffith visits mussel center

Congressman Morgan Griffith toured the college’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center this spring to see firsthand the research going on and to learn about the long-term project of cultivating endangered mussels and planting them in their native rivers to revitalize those habitats.


Mussel power

Researchers perfect freshwater mussel propagation techniques 

Mussels function as the “good guy” organisms of the aquatic environment. In the process of getting their daily nutrition, mussels filter suspended particles, organic matter, and pollutants from the water in which they live.


Restoration biologist Jess Jones receives Rachel Carson Award

Jess Jones, a restoration biologist in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and co-director of Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center, received the Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Growing Mussels

Forty years on, the Endangered Species Act continues to demonstrate its effects on a species native to this area; the fresh water mussel.  You might say these shellfish do the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping waterways healthy. More strains of these living water filters grow in this region, than anywhere else in the world. 


Giving mussels a boost in Tenn.'s Powell River

Students, staff and faculty from Virginia Tech and nearby Lincoln Memorial University put the mussels at four sites spanning about a six-mile section of the river. The release sites were shallow and scenic, where people waded around in participation. They were joined by biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who helped coordinate the event.