Conservation Genetics Workshop on Imperiled Freshwater Mollusks and Fishes

National Conservation Training Center
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
June 29-30, 2004

Sponsored by the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Speakers at the Conservation Genetics Workshop on Imperiled Freshwater Mollusks and Fishes: (Back row from left to right) Tim King, Jeff Hard, Than Hitt, Jess Jones, Dick Neves, Rob Wood, Kevin Roe, Eric Hallerman, Carla Hurt, Curt Elderkin, Dave Berg, (Front row from left to right) John Epifanio, Rick Mayden, Jeanne Serb, Bonnie Bowen, Robin Waples, Mike Ford (Rob Dillon is not shown).

Abstracts -- .doc file (2.2 MB)
Abstracts -- .doc .zip file
(440 K)


Identifying, conserving, and managing freshwater biodiversity in the United States has become one of the greatest challenges facing the conservation community today. The species richness of fishes, mollusks, crayfishes and insects contained within North America's rivers and lakes is now recognized to be of global significance. Of the world's freshwaters, few places harbor such high faunal diversity. Unfortunately, as biologists and concerned citizens, we have become acutely aware of the decline and loss of these species throughout the country. The construction of dams, water pollution, over-fishing, water withdrawal and introduction of exotic species has severely strained the nation's aquatic ecosystems. However, passage of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act by the United States Congress in the 1970s has significantly improved prospects for species conservation. We are now charged with the responsibility of identifying and prioritizing which ecosystems and species are in greatest need of restoration. Improvements in science and technology will allow policy makers and natural resource managers to begin the decades-long process of restoring habitats and species to their former ranges. The scientific community must help guide these recovery efforts to ensure that species are returned and restored to their appropriate habitats. The development of genetic methodologies in the latter half of the 20th century has revolutionized our understanding of species concepts and population diversity. Scientists are more aware than ever before that populations of species contain genetic diversity at many biologically meaningful levels. We now can directly probe into the genome of animals and see a complex array of genes, and begin to understand how these genes influence species behavior, life history, and morphology. Our assessments of genetic variation within and among a multitude of species are in flux. Cryptic species, unique life history traits, and gene variation are being revealed, all of which will require discussion on biological significance and subsequent management actions. These changes in technology and scientific knowledge will require that we keep pace with advancements and act to conserve biodiversity based on informed decisions.

In collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS) has convened this workshop to examine the state-of-knowledge concerning our ability to identify and conserve aquatic biodiversity. The workshop will provide resource managers and biologists with an opportunity to learn the principles of conservation genetics as applied to recovery of freshwater mollusks and fishes. This two-day workshop contains 22 platform presentations and 17 poster presentations. Nationally recognized experts will speak on the topics of quantitative genetics, molecular genetics, phylogenetics, species concepts, taxonomic analysis, cryptic species, hybridization and genetic management guidelines for captive propagation and releases of endangered species. Case studies will be presented to demonstrate how the tools of conservation genetics are applied in real-world examples to help protect species. A final discussion will give attendees the opportunity to question the presenters and clarify the implications of concepts learned throughout the program.

The FMCS welcomes you to the workshop and sincerely hopes to engage you and the rest of the conservation community into a dialogue on how best t o protect our declining natural resources.