, Volume 810, Issue 1, pp 477–487 | Cite as

Conservation implications of late Holocene freshwater mussel remains of the Leon River in central Texas

  • Traci Popejoy
  • Charles R. Randklev
  • Steve Wolverton
  • Lisa Nagaoka


Zooarchaeology is the study of animal remains (bone, shell, antler, and other organic tissues) from archaeological sites, which can provide conservation biologists with data on human–environmental interactions with greater time depth than historical records. Such data are of interest because they can be used to study whether or not contemporary animal communities (in this case of freshwater mussels) have changed in terms of species composition or range as a result of human-induced changes to habitat, which is essential for determining a species’ conservation status and formulating actions to protect remaining populations. This study considers whether or not the taxonomic composition of the freshwater mussel community from the Leon River in central Texas differs between the late Holocene and today. Specifically, we analyzed two zooarchaeological assemblages and compared those results with recent surveys conducted within the Leon River. Three species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act are found in the zooarchaeological record, of which two are now extirpated from the river basin (Truncilla macrodon and Fusconaia mitchelli). The results of this study provide an example of how zooarchaeological data can be used to evaluate mussel community change through time and provide evidence of range curtailment for threatened mussel species.


Freshwater mussels Conservation biogeography Applied zooarchaeology Range constriction Conservation baselines 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Funding for identification of the 41HM61 assemblage provided by Texas Department of Transportation and Coastal Environments, Inc. Funding for the identification of the Belton Lake assemblages provided by AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc. Funding for the 2011 Leon River Survey provided by Texas Department of Transportation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oklahoma Biological Survey, Department of Biology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate ProgramUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of North TexasDentonUSA
  3. 3.Texas A&M, Institute of Renewable and Natural ResourcesCollege StationUSA

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