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Zebra and Quagga Mussels: Fish Predation on Quagga Mussels

Project ID: 9508
Principal Investigator: Cathy Karp
Research Topic: Ecosystem Needs
Priority Area Assignments: 2010 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2011 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2012 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2013 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013
Keywords: None

Research Question

Quagga mussels, _Dreissena bugensis_, native to the Dnieper River drainage in the Ukraine, are becoming established in the lower Colorado River drainage and associated canal, pumping, and power generation facilities. These mussels have the potential to severely impact the Bureau of Reclamation's (Reclamation) ability to deliver water and electricity in the Southwestern United States. Control measures include chemical, mechanical, and biological, all working together to control invasive mussels (zebra mussels currently are found only in one lake in California).

Some fish species are known to consume mussels in Europe and the Eastern United States. One of these, the redear sunfish, has been introduced in western U.S. and is being released into some canal systems in Arizona and California to potentially help control quagga mussels. Our research questions are:

* Which fish species in the western U.S. are consuming mussels (quagga and zebra forms)?

* Do redear sunfish readily consume mussels that are attached to vertical and horizontal surfaces?

* Do redear sunfish consume both mussels and snails (e.g., New Zealand mud snail) when offered both?

Need and Benefit

Establishment and spread of quagga mussels in the western U.S. has the potential to severely impact Reclamation's ability to deliver water. Fish predation on invasive mussels is one type of biological control that may contribute to slowing the establishment of mussels in Reclamation canals and other water delivery structures.

Contributing Partners

Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior
Lower Colorado Regional Office, Lower Colorado Region

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Summary of Laboratory Experiments to Evaluate Consumption of Juvenile/Adult Quagga Mussel by Redear Sunfish and Bluegill (final, PDF, 90KB)
By Cathy Karp
Report completed on June 01, 2011

Quagga mussels, Dreissena bugensis, from Eurasia are becoming widespread in the Colorado River drainage and associated waterworks, and are impacting state and federal water delivery operations. One potential mussel suppression agent is predation by redear sunfish, Lepomis micropholus. Redear sunfish, a molluscivore native to the southeastern United States, occurs in portions of the lower Colorado River. In aquaria experiments, 85.7% of juvenile and adult redear sunfish and bluegill, L. macroch
Keywords: quagga mussel redear sunfish

This information was last updated on September 1, 2014
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