Studying the Morphology of Invasive Mussel Veligers Using 3D Models Created With a Scanning Electron Microscope

Project ID: 7361
Principal Investigator: Audrey Rager
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Priority Area Assignments: 2015 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2015
Keywords: invasive mussels, quagga mussels, zebra mussels, scanning electron microscopy, sem, 3d model

Research Question

Can 3D models of mussel larvae (veligers) help biologists better identify invasive mussel species before they become a problem? What can this method tell us about the morphological differences between and among veligers of various mussel species?

Need and Benefit

Zebra and quagga mussels are prolific breeders, clogging water intake structures that impact water treatment facilities and power-producing infrastructure. Because adult populations are difficult to discover by normal field samples procedures, the Reclamation Detection Laboratory for Invasive and Native Species has discovered that identifying the mussels in their veliger stages gives water managers an earlier warning about a possible infestation than waiting for adult populations.

Veligers, the larval form of mussels and other bivalves, are microscopic (between 97 and 492 microns). The purpose of this scoping study is to determine whether 3D images of zebra and quagga veligers created with a scanning electron microscope could air Detection Laboratory biologists in identifying and studying morphological differences and changes in invasive mussels.

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.

Studying the Morphology of Invasive Mussel Veligers Using 3D Models Created With a Scanning Electron Microscope (final, PDF, 10.1MB)
By Audrey Rager
Publication completed on September 30, 2015

Zebra and quagga mussels are prolific breeders, clogging water intake structures that impact water treatment facilities and power-producing infrastructure. Because adult populations are difficult to discover by normal field sampling procedures, the Reclamation Detection Laboratory for Invasive and Native Species has discovered that identifying the mussels in their veliger stages gives water managers an earlier warning about a possible infestation than waiting for adult populations. The purpose of this scoping study was to determine whether 3D images and anaglyphs created from stereo-pairs of SEM images could aid Detection Laboratory biologists in identifying and studying morphological differences and changes in invasive mussels. This report includes the SEM images of invasive mussel veligers as well as anaglyphs created from selected stereo-pairs of these images.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17