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Removal of Non-Native, Invasive New Zealand Mudsnails Using an Innovative Stream Restoration Tool

Project ID: 2249
Principal Investigator: Juddson Sechrist
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2011
Keywords: None

Research Question

The New Zealand mudsnail (NZM) (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) is an invasive species that outcompetes native macroinvertebrates and dominates the benthic community in invaded systems (Hall et al. 2006). Abundant populations of NZM in infested Reclamation systems can have serious ecological and economic effects. Ecologically, NZMs are indigestible to fish and provide minimal caloric benefit, resulting in consistently lower condition indices when the principal dietary component compared to fish in uninfested areas (Vinson and Baker 2008 ). Thus, NZMs affect the fitness of imperiled species (i.e., salmon, steelhead, bulltrout, etc.) and complicate recovery efforts funded by Reclamation under threatened and endangered (T&E) consultation. Economically, NZMs grow and reproduce at such rapid rates (Zaranko et al. 1997) that live NZMs and dispersed shells of dead snails are likely to contribute significantly to biofouling (i.e., clogging pumps, intake lines, louvers, etc.), resulting in financial loss for cleaning, maintenance, treatment, and replacement.
There is currently no efficient method recognized to control, remove, or prevent range expansion of NZMs. We wish to investigate a new stream restoration tool-the Sand Wand-to address the following:
Can the Sand Wand remove NZMs from large amounts of in situ streambed in an economical and efficient manner? What, if any, is the recolonization rate/density of NZMs within treated sections over time?
1. Hall, R.O., M.F. Dybdahl, and M.C. Vanderloop. 2006. Extremely high secondary production of introduced snails in rivers. Ecol. App. 16(3)1121-1131.
2. Loo, S.E., R. MacNally, and P.S. Lake. 2007. Forecasting New Zealand mudsnail invasion range:model comparisons using native and invaded ranges. Ecol. App. 17(1) 181-189.
3. Vinson, M.R. and M.A. Baker. 2008. Poor growth of rainbow trout fed New Zealand mudsnails. N. Amer. J. Fish. Manage. 28:701-709.
4. Zaranko, D., D. Farara, D. and F. Thompson. 1997.

Need and Benefit

The primary need of this research is based upon the fact that there are currently no efficient means of controlling NZM infestation. If such a tool could be found, its application and utility are obvious for Reclamation managers. Even better if the tool is efficient and cost effective.
Benefits to Reclamation include several key points:

Although there are no T&E fish species associated with the Bear River, there are sensitive species of special concern, notably, the Bonneville cutthroat trout (BCT) (Oncorhynchus clarki utah). This species is considered to be a surrogate for study in lieu of T&E species. Although not currently listed, it is a high profile species and is also the State fish of Utah. Thus, BCT response to NZM removal with the Sand Wand technology will provide Reclamation managers/stakeholders a case study with direct application to imperiled salmonid management. For example, the ability to address the question:

Can removal of NZMs with the Sand Wand positively affect body condition (and, ultimately, survival) of salmonids?

We have established partnerships and advocacy with 14 different affiliations associated with the Bear River Environmental Coordination Committee. This will allow us to collaboratively evaluate the benefits of the Sand Wand technology. This also expedites and ameliorates costs associated with everything from labor to permitting because most of the affiliations within this group have at least tentatively agreed to support the project with cash or in-kind services.

Further, because of the partnership opportunities available to this project, Reclamation will realize savings through resource leveraging via in-kind service and cash contribution.

Contributing Partners


Research Products

Independent Peer Review

The following documents were reviewed by qualified Bureau of Reclamation employees. The findings were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Document ID 1394: this document contains protected information and it cannot be freely downloaded from USBR.gov. Contact the Principal Investigator to request a copy of this document.

This information was last updated on December 19, 2014
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