Michael Hart is a research associate, laboratory manager and freshwater mussel ecologist with the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute mussel research group. His current research focuses on understanding the effect of environmental stressors on the viability and distribution of freshwater mussels in Texas and applying these findings to develop conservation strategies for these taxa. Specifically, he is interested in determining factors that cause declines in mussel populations, such as decreased water quantity and quality, sub lethal stressors, climate change and other anthropogenic changes. His research techniques include field monitoring for Zebra mussel larvae in the Trinity River, field surveys for Unionid mussels in Texas rivers and laboratory experiments. Currently he is working on an experiment to assess salinity toxicity to the Texas Hornshell, a species that is soon to be listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Act.
Michael brings to the institute seven years of experience studying freshwater mussels both in the field and in the laboratory. His thesis work confirmed host fish species for two large river mussel species to provide evidence and support for increasing fish mobility between river segments impounded by dams.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in aquatic resource management and a Master of Science degree, both from Auburn University with an emphasis on freshwater mussel ecology and life history.