Freshwater mussels live in the streams, rivers, and reservoirs of Texas and have a very unique life cycle. Mussel larvae, called glochidia, must attach to a host fish’s gills to complete metamorphosis into the juvenile life stage. In some species, the female mussel uses part of its fleshy mantle shaped like prey items to lure in fish. The lure is packed with glochidia, and when bitten, the glochidia are released and attach to the fish’s gills. Once attached, they mature through a parasitic relationship with the host fish and eventually drop off to become juvenile mussels.
Glochidia of the candidate mussel species Texas fatmucket. Credit: USFWS
Eleven species of mussels in Texas are currently under review for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Five species in central Texas watersheds have been determined to warrant listing, but have been precluded from listing due to higher listing priorities.
Candidate mussel species Golden orb. Credit: USFWS