Dressinid Mussel Monitoring and Detection Laboratory

Project ID: 5042
Principal Investigator: Denise Hosler
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Priority Area Assignments: 2013 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2014 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2015 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013, 2014 and 2015
Keywords: dreissenid mussels, invasive species, mussel detection, zebra mussels, quagga mussels, microscopy, pcr, dna

Research Question

Where in the Western United States have Dreissenid Mussels been introduced and where are the populations increasing? Reclamation received ARRA funding for a Dreissenid mussel early detection program for the most vulnerable Reclamation reservoirs and facilities. The program sponsored systematic testing for approximately 329 Reclamation reservoirs and connected waters from 2008 through 2010. During this period, Reclamation has developed a very strong early detection program utilizing cross-polarized light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, Flow Cam, and DNA testing. The capability to detect the earliest stages of potential mussel infestation at our reservoirs, allows facility managers to make budget and management decisions in the best interest of Reclamation Facilities. Invasive quagga and zebra mussels pose a significant threat to the costs of operation of Reclamation dams, power plants, pumping plants, and other water infrastructure. 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. The purpose of this proposal is to secure funding for the Reclamation Mussel Detection Laboratory in Denver.

Need and Benefit

The two Dreissenid species currently found in the United States have a life cycle that ranges from microscopic larvae to thumbnail size adults, and both have the ability to adapt to extreme environmental conditions. Reclamation facilities were not built and designed with redundant systems, which would allow operations to continue in the event that an invasive species such as the mussels were introduced. Therefore, this invasive species has the ability to disrupt facility operations. Based upon experience with zebra mussels in the eastern U.S., if mussels are detected early, facility operators may have three to five years to plan, budget, and implement protective measures before the population of mussels are large enough to clog pipes, water intakes, drains, gates and trashracks, and thereby impair generation of hydropower and delivery of water. In order to stay ahead of mussel infestations and to help guide preventative and mitigation measures, 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.

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.

Mussel Database Development and Management (final, PDF, 810KB)
By Denise Hosler
Publication completed on September 30, 2016

The Reclamation Detection Laboratory for Exotic Species (RDLES) in Denver has analyzed over 15,000 samples representing over 400 water bodies for the presence of dreissenid mussels. At the time of sample collection, numerous environmental parameters were collected with a plankton tow net sample. Each sample, analyzed by numerous methods for the detection of dreissenid mussels, water quality, and zooplankton populations. Additionally, during the ARRA funded portion of the project (2009-2011) each reservoir was sampled for water quality parameters, zooplankton, and phytoplankton. Consequently, there exists a great deal of data on wester water bodies associated with the mussel detection project. Dreissenid mussels are a significant threat to Reclamation facilities and understanding the bio suitability and environmental factors that contribute to population management are critical. Therefore, this relational database project was established to create a georeferenced, relational database that would house all of the data has been collected in association with the mussel detection project.

Return to Research Projects

Last Updated: 6/22/20