Using Freshwater Sponge Chemical/Mechanical Defense as a Bio-Control for Mussel Settlement

Project ID: 3908
Principal Investigator: Kevin Bloom
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Priority Area Assignments: 2015 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2015
Keywords: invasive, mussel, settlement, freshwater sponge, chemical defense, mechanical defense, facilities, coatings.

Research Question

Invasive mussels have a negative impact on water delivery systems and other Reclamation facilities. There have been several observations stating that mussels do not settle when freshwater sponges are present. Does the presence of freshwater sponges have any effect on the settlement of invasive mussels? Can freshwater sponges' natural chemical or mechanical defense against predators be used as an anti-fouling control or settlement control against invasive mussels? Can the defense techniques of a sponge be added to a coating material to be later applied to Reclamation facilities?

Need and Benefit

This scoping study will help determine if freshwater sponges prevent mussel settlement. If this study determines that sponges are an effective deterrent, the next step will be to determine the defense mechanism. It is possible that a chemical or mechanical defense can be applied as a coating or treatment at Reclamation facilities that are exposed to high mussel settlement. The long term goal and potential benefit of this research is to determine if freshwater sponges produce a chemical or physical defense that can be applied to protect Reclamation facilities and water delivery systems. Reclamation facilities may benefit from this research as it may provide a low maintenance and passive protection from mussel settlement.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

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.

Using Freshwater Sponge Chemical/Mechanical Defense as a Bio-Control for Mussel Settlement (final, PDF, 400KB)
By Sherri Pucherelli
Publication completed on September 30, 2015

This scoping project is a literature review designed to examine the variety of sponge predatory defenses and their potential effects on mussel settlement. Additionally, a small scale field study was designed to visually examine if sponges exclude mussel settlement. This study is based on field observations indicating that invasive quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) were not settled on or near freshwater sponges. Sponges may produce mechanical or chemical defenses that prevent mussel settlement. It is possible that these natural defenses may be used to develop settlement prevention treatments that could be used to prevent bio-fouling in Reclamation facilities.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20