The Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center (FMCC) at Virginia Tech is a cooperative research and propagation facility to restore and recover endangered freshwater mollusks in Virginia and adjacent states. Beginning in 1978, the Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, U.S. Geological Survey, began life history research on a suite of recently listed endangered mussels. Numerous graduate student theses and dissertations over roughly a 20-year period provided the knowledge and expertise to implement a propagation program. In 1997, the first propagated juveniles of a federally endangered species were released to augment reproduction in that population. In 2000, a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and matching funds from other agencies, allowed us to construct a 2700 ft 2 building and pond complex to enhance our conservation work. Over the last 10 years, the annual production of juveniles has gradually increased, such that we typically produce roughly 10,000 or more juveniles of 6-10 species each year for release to rivers.
The addition of a grow-out building in 2007 that uses recirculating pond water has allowed us to produce larger juvenile mussels for the recovery effort. Staff at FMCC includes a research scientist, 3 salaried employees, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist, and several undergraduate employees each summer. The Center is open to visitors and is an integral research component of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.