Biogeography of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionida) in Texas and implications on conservation biology

Diversity and Distributions
By: , and 




Biogeography seeks to identify and explain the spatial distributions of species and has become an important tool used by conservationists to protect and manage aquatic organisms. Texas, located in the southwestern United States, is home to 52 species of freshwater mussels, 9 of which are endemic to Texas and 7 that are endemic to Texas and neighboring states or countries. There have been two major attempts to classify this fauna into biogeographical provinces; however, both efforts relied on limited distribution information and outdated taxonomy. To address both issues, we set out to delineate biogeographic provinces for freshwater mussels in Texas by using a comprehensive distributional dataset of >28,000 records and molecular information.


Southwestern United States.


We compiled community and molecular data for 48 of the 52 freshwater mussel species that occur in Texas. We performed algorithmic hierarchal cluster analysis (HCA) and nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) based on Euclidean distance to identify biogeographic groupings. We conducted a similar analysis using molecular sequence data for our target species.


Based on the results from community and molecular data, we identified seven biogeographic provinces for freshwater mussels in Texas: Great Plains, Mississippi Embayment, Sabine-Neches, Trinity-San Jacinto, Central Texas, Rio Grande and Coastal. However, the Coastal and Great Plains provinces were not included in our analysis and were recognized based on previous work.

Main conclusions

Our approach integrating community and molecular datasets provides a comprehensive assessment of the biogeography of freshwater mussels in Texas, which serves as a model for future biogeographic studies. Our findings also shed light on the ecological, evolutionary and geologic processes shaping freshwater mussel communities in Texas, which is important for the conservation of remaining biodiversity in the state.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Biogeography of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionida) in Texas and implications on conservation biology
Series title Diversity and Distributions
DOI 10.1111/ddi.13555
Edition Online First
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 17 p.
Country United States
State Texas
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