UT Tyler Office of News and Information

UT Tyler Biology Department Awarded Grant to Study Endangered Northeast Texas Species

September 22, 2010

Media Contact:
Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

Dr. Neil Ford studies mussels in the field.The University of Texas at Tyler Department of Biology has received a $75,000 Endangered Species Section 6 Grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dr. Arlene Horne, vice president for research and federal relations, announced.

Dr. Neil Ford, professor of biology; Dr. Lance Williams, associate professor of biology; and Marsha Williams, research associate; will study threatened and endangered mussels and fish of four Northeast Texas rivers.

The group will use global satellite information to determine landscape features of Cypress Creek and the Sulphur, Sabine and Neches Rivers to predict where rare mussels and fish should occur. They will then conduct surveys in those sites to determine which habitat features are best at predicting where threatened species occur. Such information will improve the ability of natural resource managers to find and protect rare species of mussels and fish and their habitats.

“These four rivers differ in large scale factors that impact fish and mussels such as channelization, impoundments, sedimentation and pollution,” said Ford, principal investigator of the two-year project. “Comparing the occurrence of threatened fish and mussels in each river helps to determine which specific factors impact the habitats that are important to fish and mussels.”

Section 6 grants are funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for states to gain information about their endangered species.

"Several threatened species of fish live in these rivers and Texas Parks and Wildlife just recently listed five species of freshwater mussels that occur in these rivers as threatened in the state,” Ford added. “The information gathered will help the department manage these important resources.”

Ford’s research expertise is in life-history evolution. He has been conducting mussel surveys in East Texas for the last 10 years.

Marsha Williams will supervise the project’s computer modeling components. She is an expert in river geomorphology and Geographic Information System applications. Prior to serving UT Tyler, she worked for the Mississippi Extension Service and served as a researcher for Ohio State University. Lance Williams’ research expertise is in aquatic ecology.

Marsha May with the TPWD Wildlife Diversity Branch also will serve as a co-investigator. She is the department’s freshwater mussels expert.

For more information, contact Ford, 903.566.7249 or Neil_Ford@uttyler.edu.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,400 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

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 Last Published 1/7/11