Public Release: 

Fisheries science student describes new species of mussel

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Va. - Virginia Tech fisheries science doctoral candidate Jess Jones of Blacksburg, Va., has been awarded the William Preston Thesis Award for the best original research with the potential to benefit all people. This annual award is the highest academic award for master's degree students given by the university.

Jones' master of science thesis, titled "A Holistic Approach to Taxonomic Evaluation of Two Closely Related Endangered Freshwater Mussel Species, the Oyster Mussel, and Tan Riffleshell," reevaluated the separate classification of two very closely related mussel species. Jones utilized not only the traditional methods of analyzing the anatomical characteristics, but also used modern genetic techniques. Through his research, Jones was able to describe a new species and subspecies of freshwater mussel. His findings also illustrate how essential a multi-faceted approach is to understanding and describing the world's biodiversity.

The thesis abstract is at with a link to a PDF of the full document.

Along with being surprised by the recognition, Jones also felt honored to be nominated by members of his thesis advisory committee. "I wasn't even aware of being nominated until I heard word from the graduate school that I had won the award. However, it's a great honor to have my research recognized by the university," Jones remarked.

In addition to his responsibilities as a Ph.D. student, Jones also works for the Virginia field office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a restoration biologist. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Virginia Tech and is currently helping scientists at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources restore rivers and their respective populations of native mussels and fishes.

The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental resource management, fisheries and wildlife sciences, forestry, geospatial and environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.


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