Refining Quagga Habitat Suitability Models

Project ID: 19134
Principal Investigator: Yale Passamaneck
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2019, 2020 and 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

As introductions of invasive freshwater mussels continue to be detected across the Western United States there is
significant interest in understanding what waters are most at risk of infestation. In the absence of extensive laboratory
studies on the physiological tolerances of invasive dreissenid mussels, correlative studies comparing mussel
distribution and environmental parameters remains the best tool available for understanding the risk of mussel
establishment in new waters. Previous efforts to define such habitat suitability parameters for dreissenid mussels have
drawn primarily on data from waters in the Eastern US and Europe. Hydrological regimes in these regions are often
less dynamic than in Reclamation waters in the arid Western US. We hypothesize that such factors may play an as
yet unrecognized role in determining a waterbody's potential risk of invasive mussel establishment and infestation,
and may serve to limit the spread of infestations in Reclamation waters. The proposed work will draw on a decade of
early detection research conducted at the Reclamation Detection Laboratory for Exotic Species (RDLES), as well as
publicly available data on water quality and hydrology to understand what factors may control the establishment of
mussels in the Western US. Of particular interest will be waterbodies where RDLES has identified evidence of
dreissenid mussel introductions, but populations have not proceeded to establishment and infestation. These data
suggest initial habitat suitability but that some environmental features limited population expansion and survival. This
is significant because for waters where no detection has occurred, it is not necessarily possible to distinguish if this is
due to unsuitable environmental conditions or simply a lack of any introduction. This project will assess how current
habitat suitability models may be refined to more accurately inform risk assessment in Reclamation waters. This
project will build upon

Need and Benefit

Predictive risk assessment of potential invasive mussel establishment and infestation in Reclamation waters remains
limited. Although habitat suitability models have been developed for dreissenid mussels, they have primarily relied on
data from the Eastern US and Europe. Incorporating mussel detection data may help to refine these models and
provide improved estimates for what Reclamation waters are most at risk.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20