There remains in the collection a significant amount of uncatalogued specimens of freshwater mussels, aquatic snails, and land snails. The curatorial staff of the Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection has built an electronic database of the freshwater mussel collection, which numerous academic researchers, state and federal agencies, and conservation organizations have accessed for information regarding status and distribution of imperiled and non-imperiled species. With help from several graduate and undergraduate students from UT’s Departments of Geology and Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, the staff in the collection has begun the process of accessioning the large quantity of aquatic and land snail material, some of which dates to the late 1800s.
The Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection functions as a resource for teaching, research, and outreach. Each year, groups of elementary, high school, and college students tour the collection to learn about freshwater mollusks in general and native freshwater mussels in particular. The curatorial staff, using mussel material from the collection, has led several workshops on mussel identification and ecology, and is involved with numerous ongoing research projects.
Ongoing research involving the collection and its staff includes an extensive survey of the freshwater and snail fauna of several major river systems in east and middle Tennessee, including the Harpeth, Duck, Emory, and Barren, and an analysis of the age structure of recent and archaeological mussel specimens from the lower Holston River near Knoxville.
Access to the collections is restricted to researchers. For more information, see Conducting Research at the McClung.