Breeding the most endangered bivalve on Earth: Margaritifera marocana

Coordinator: Manuel Lopes Lima
UTAD/CITAB Coordinator: Simone da Graça Pinto Varandas

The freshwater mussel Margaritifera marocana (Pallary, 1918) is one of the rarest species on Earth, being restricted to one river stretch in Morocco. It is therefore listed as Critically Endangered and has been included in “The world's 100 most threatened species list” by the Zoological Society of London. Due to the menacing presence of a big dam upstream of the known mussel population and the increasing demand of water for agriculture and development in the region, the species is now on the brink of extinction that will likely occur in the following years. The aim of the present proposal is to build a captive-breeding ark[RS1] in Morocco that can be used both as an assurance colony and for the species reintroduction. The project will be based on two locations: 1) on the Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, Morocco, a recirculation tank system will be built for mussel stock and reproduction, including also a fish stock system; and 2) in the Bragança Polytechnic Institute, Portugal, a breeding system previously used in successful breeding experiments will be used to optimize the process. The project will be composed of a multidisciplinary team highly skilled in freshwater mussel breeding programs, from distinct academic and conservation backgrounds and from four distinct countries.


Project Details





Start date

January 2016


3 months

Funding Entity

SOS Rapid Action Grant Application

Total Financing

US§ 25 000

CITAB/UTAD Financing

€ 1 000,00


Responsible institution



SPVS – Portuguese Wildlife Society (Portugal)

The Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech (Morocco)

CIIMAR/UP- Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, (Portugal)

CITAB/UTAD, Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal)

CIMO/IPB, Mountain Research Center of the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (Portugal)

CBMA/UM Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology, University of Minho (Portugal)