Quagga and Zebra Mussels

Two species of dreissenid mussels, Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) and Dreissena rostriformis “bugensis” (quagga mussel), have become established in freshwater lakes, reservoirs, and rivers in the United States. Invasive dreissenid mussels pose significant challenges for Reclamation and all agencies and industries that manage water. Invasive mussels are prolific breeders and settle on or within water facility infrastructure such as water intakes, gates, diversion screens, hydropower equipment, pumps, pipelines, and boats. Infested water and hydropower infrastructure can fail or choke off water transmissions. Invasive mussels negatively impact the natural ecology, which can be detrimental to native and endangered species, including native fisheries.

Maintaining and operating water supply and delivery facilities, water recreation, and other water dependent industries and economies in mussel infested water bodies are dramatically more expensive and complex. Public recreation may also be severely impacted by mussel infestations, from shell fragments degrading swim beaches to increased requirements and cost for boaters to have their watercraft inspected and decontaminated, and potential impacts on populations of game fish.


  • Research

    Spring 2018 Knowledge Stream - Invasive Mussels

    (Spring 2018) Welcome to the Spring 2018 edition focusing on better detection, monitoring, and control of invasive quagga and zebra mussels. This research category is one of the Science and Technology Program’s priorities and supports the Department of the Interior's initiative to protect Western U.S. ecosystems and hydroelectric facilities from the effects of invasive mussels. Over the last ten years since the discovery of quagga mussels in Lake Mead on the Colorado River in January 2007, Reclamation has implemented a coordinated response through a Reclamation-wide Mussels Task Force. The Research and Development Office, through its Science and Technology Program, played a key role in this response and continues to do so by supporting research efforts. Read More →

  • News

    Interior Releases Report on Fight Against Invasive Mussels

    The U.S. Department of the Interior today released a report highlighting the progress made in the fight against invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which can impair the delivery of water and power, diminish boating and fishing, and devastate ecosystem health. The report comes after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced in June a set of initiatives to protect western ecosystems and hydroelectric facilities from the destructive species through continued collaboration with western governors as well as federal, state, and tribal agencies. Read More →

  • Fact Sheet

    Environmental DNA (eDNA) and monitoring for invasive species fact sheet

    Environmental DNA (eDNA) refers to DNA present in an environmental sample, as differentiated from traditional sampling of DNA directly from an intact organism. eDNA frequently is thought of as DNA in tissue and cells that have been shed by an organism, but can also refer to DNA within an intact organism (usually microscopic), if that organism is collected in the environmental sample. For eDNA analysis, samples are collected from the environment and DNA is then extracted from the full sample or some fraction of it. Read More →

Last Updated: 5/3/18