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McClung Museum Curator to speak on Rare Alabama Lampmussel

gerry-dinkins-alabama-lampmussel-ut-science-forumGerry Dinkins, Curator of Malacology & Natural History at the McClung Museum, will speak on “Rediscovery of the Nearly Extinct Alabama Lampmussel in the Emory River” at the UT Science Forum Friday, November 1.

The Alabama lampmussel is considered to be the rarest mussel in North America; in Alabama, they can be found in only one area and were thought to be all but extinct. None were known to remain in Tennessee until their discovery in the Emory River two years ago.

Mollusk research collection at the McClung Museum

The freshwater mussels within the Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection at the McClung Museum consists of approximately 50,000 specimens representing over 250 distinct taxa and possesses a significant representation of the entire North America mussel fauna.

There remains in the collection a significant amount of uncatalogued specimens of freshwater mussels, aquatic snails, and land snails. The curatorial staff of the Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection has built an electronic database of the freshwater mussel collection, which numerous academic researchers, state and federal agencies, and conservation organizations have accessed for information regarding status and distribution of imperiled and non-imperiled species. With help from several graduate and undergraduate students from UT’s Departments of Geology and Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, the staff in the collection has begun the process of accessioning the large quantity of aquatic and land snail material, some of which dates to the late 1800s.

The Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection functions as a resource for teaching, research, and outreach.  Ongoing research involving the collection and its staff includes an extensive survey of the mussel and aquatic snail fauna of the Buffalo River system in Middle Tennessee, an analysis of the age structure of a Federal Endangered mussel species using specimens recently collected from the Tennessee River compared to specimens collected by native Americans approximately 2,000 ago, and a survey for the Federal Endangered Alabama Lampmussel in the Obed River system in East Tennessee.