During March 22-26 the 2015 Joint Meeting of the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS) and the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee (UMRCC) took place in St. Charles, Missouri, USA http://molluskconservation.org/2015Symposium/2015_FMCS-Symposium.html.
It was a pleasure for me to take part in this large international conference where I met many eminently respectable scientists and conservationists in the molluskan research. I am glad having presented UC4LIFE and some research I conducted during my PhD at KAU. Great thanks go to the FMCS committee that selected me for a FMCS students travel award, together with eight other American students!
Prior to the conference a freshwater mussel propagation workshop informed about the large variety of mussel culturing programs in the USA, their methods, success and weaknesses as well as their future aims. America holds the highest freshwater mussel diversity worldwide. However, many species are categorized endangered. Thus, a large number of mussel conservation programs have been initiated during the last decades where much experience in mussel culturing and re-introduction could be collected. Sharing information in lively discussions is always a good tool to learn more. The workshop was very interesting and informative!
A field trip to the Melvin Price Locks & dam was offered after the official part of the conference. However, we visited the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area at the confluence of the Missouri River in the Mississippi River earlier in the day. For more information see: http://extra.mdc.mo.gov/documents/area_brochures/9736map.pdf and http://extra.mdc.mo.gov/documents/area_brochures/9736.pdf. By the way: The Mississippi River system is the world’s third largest river system with 3710 miles; the Nile River is the largest with 4180 miles.
A guided tour at the National Great Rivers Research & Education Center offered great insights into the high technology research facility at the Mississippi River and ongoing projects http://www.ngrrec.org/.
The main attraction of the day was a visit at the National Great Rivers Museum http://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/RiversProjectOffice/NGRM.aspx adjacent to the Melvin Price Locks & Dam http://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/LocksandDams/MelvinPrice.aspx.
The dam represents the penultimate lock of the 29 locks in the Upper Mississippi River with a length of 1160 feet from shore to shore. Its operation started in 1990 and its construction cost was 1 billion US$.
One day after the conference I visited the St. Louis Zoo on my own and got a private guided tour for Ozark Hellbender propagation. Thanks to Mark Wanner, Zoological Manager from the St. Louis Zoo! http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/st-louis-zoo-and-mdc-announce-world-s-first-captive-breeding-ozark-hellbenders
Ozark hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishop) are giant salamanders that are strictly aquatic amphibians. Categorized highly endangered, Ozark hellbenders are endemic in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, mostly occurring in the North Fork of the White River, Bryany Creek, Spring River, Eleven Point River, and the Current River. These days, no population of Ozark hellbenders is stable. Therefore, the Ozark hellbender propagation in St. Louis is unique and highly valuable.