By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Federal scientists said they’ve developed ways to detect invasive quagga and zebra mussels while they’re still in the larval stage. That could help resource managers beef up protective measures before the mussels establish themselves in reservoirs and lakes.
“Early detection of mussel larvae does not mean that the water body will necessarily become infested,” said Curt Brown, director of research and development for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “Early detection provides a warning for managers that a water body is being exposed to mussels through some pathway, so they can consider additional means to prevent further introduction.”
The new testing includes the use of cross-polarized light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and PCR testing of the DNA of larvae in water samples. s and procedures used to identify invasive mussels through DNA testing.
“Improving the accuracy of testing provides Reclamation and its partners better information about the presence of quagga and zebra mussels in water bodies where our facilities are located,” laboratory manager Denise Hosler said.
Quagga and zebra mussels arrived in the United States from Europe in the 1980s and spread to many eastern waterways, rivers, and lakes. Quagga mussels were discovered in Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, and Lake Havasu on the Colorado River in January 2007. Zebra mussels were confirmed to be present in Pueblo Reservoir in Colorado and San Justo Reservoir in California in January 2008.
They were discovered in Lake Powell for the first time this spring, attached to boats at the Wahweap Marina, where National Park Service officials said they weren’t sure if there is an established population of the invasive mussels.
These mussels spread in numerous ways, mainly by floating in the currents of the water body or by “hitching” a ride on a boat or other water vessels that are used in infested water and then transported to another water body.
Once established, the mussel populations can explode, overwhelming native aquatic ecosystems and fouling water storage, water delivery and hydropower structures and systems.
Knowledge and experience in the Eastern United States indicates that once introduced, the mussels are almost impossible to eradicate in water bodies and facilities comparable to Reclamation facilities.
A key observation of quagga and zebra mussels in the Western States is not all contemporary measures can be applied to other facilities; one size does not fit all. The observations show that mussels react differently at different facilities because of water temperature, chemistry content differences, and a host of other unknown factors.
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, invasive species Tagged: | biodiversity, DNA profiling, Environment, invasive species, Quagga mussels, United States Bureau of Reclamation, Zebra mussel, zebra mussels