My name is Jess Jones. I’m a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. My home office is the Gloucester field office in eastern Virginia, but I’m remotely stationed in the western part of the state at Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center.
I work with the freshwater mussel propagation program, where we collect wild mussels, breed them and raise juvenile mussels for release in the Clinch and Powell rivers in Southwest Virginia, where two large spills caused the loss of much mussel habitat. This program is a joint project with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Tech University, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, and other partners.
We’re always looking to advance the technology at our center. Dan Hua, lab manager of FMCC, and I set up a trip to China for an academic exchange with the Freshwater Fisheries Research Center in Wuxi, China. The center is a world leader in producing cultured pearls with freshwater mussels and various fish species. They have advanced their mussel culture program to not only raise cultured mussels, but to keep adult mussels in captivity to breed and spawn mussel larvae, known as glochidia. In other words, they’ve closed the life cycle. They rear mussels to adulthood and then hold them in captivity to produce eggs.
We’re looking to learn from the biologists at the Wuxi center. We’d like to offer some of our innovative propagation and monitoring techniques while bringing their life cycle technology to the U.S.
It’s worth our time to explore all possibilities for learning and improving what we’re doing here. Whether that requires a trip to next state, or just down the road or across the globe.
Note: This is a personal blog and not an official U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blog.