giant clams resting on ocean floor

Preserving, restocking giant clams fast-tracked via molecular tech

Giant clams are important players in coral reef ecosystems. They serve as habitat for fish, corals, and other marine organisms. However, most species of giant clams are already in danger of extinction due to disturbances brought about by climate change and human activities. 

To help bring back giant clams from extinction, the University of the Philippines Diliman-Marine Science Institute (UPD-MSI) established giant clam cultures in the 1980s. The giant clams produced through these efforts have been restocked nationwide. 

To date, this program aims to revisit giant clam restocking sites and other areas to assess current giant clam diversity and abundance. This program also aims to advance culture and rearing protocols for giant clams through the use of modern molecular approaches.

The findings from this program will reveal how giant clam populations are faring in different regions of the country. These will indicate how well current conservation efforts are working and inform future strategies for targeted restocking and protection efforts. 

More importantly, the findings from this program will lead to the development of better culture protocols and tools for monitoring giant clam populations. Finally, the public information dissemination activities conducted by this program capitalizes on the iconic nature of the giant clam to enhance public knowledge and involvement in marine conservation.

Giant clams are members of the clam genus Tridacnathe largest living bivalve mollusks and one of the world’s most endangered clam species. Its range covers the Indo-Pacific, but populations are diminishing quickly, and the giant clam has become extinct in many areas where it was once common. The conservation and propagation of giant clams are, therefore, of utmost importance in bringing the fragile balance back to marine ecosystems, while at the same time protecting them from human consumption.

The project is funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), and implemented by UP-MSI along with the Western Philippines University (WPU), Davao del Norte State College (DNSC), and Mindanao State University-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (MSU-TCTO) (DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).