Early Detection and Monitoring

In order to stay ahead of mussel infestations and to help guide preventive and mitigation measures, in 2009 Reclamation began a monitoring and detection program for many of its reservoirs determined most at risk of mussel exposure and infestation. The aim is to detect the earliest stages of mussel exposure or infestation at Reclamation reservoirs, so that response planning and budgeting for protective measures can be initiated. If microscopic mussel larvae are detected early in a reservoir, potentially several years may be available for response actions to be taken prior to full infestation of facilities. Early actions may also be taken to prevent the spread of mussels to other water bodies.

Currently, Reclamation, in partnership with western states and other agencies, is monitoring over 200 water bodies, including approximately 160 Reclamation reservoirs. Reclamation regional and area offices have selected target reservoirs based on:

  1. The potential for a mussel infestation to complicate, impair, or significantly increase the cost to provide critical Reclamation mission activities.
  2. The annual number of boats and other crafts or equipment that are moved into this reservoir from other locations.

Monthly water samples from each water body are subjected to multiple tests to determine whether microscopic mussel larvae are present. This testing includes:

  • Cross-polarized light microscopy, to highlight microscopic mussel shells.
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy, to provide very high magnification images for taxonomic identification. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and gene sequencing tests, to confirm the presence of mussel DNA Test results are shared with Reclamation facility managers and State Invasive Species Coordinators.

Early Detection/Monitoring Resources

  1. Invasive Mussel Detection and Monitoring Program for Reclamation Reservoirs
Last Updated: 4/23/18