Life history and ecological impacts of quagga mussels in Lake Havasu, Lower Colower River

Project ID: 9084
Principal Investigator: Cathy Karp
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Priority Area Assignments: 2015 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels), 2016 (Zebra and Quagga Mussels)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014 and 2015
Keywords: quagga mussel life history, ecological impacts, fluctuating lake level and flows

Research Question

Invasive quagga mussels are becoming widespread in the western United States, yet little is known of their life history and ecological impacts from invasion and establishment in western water bodies. Quagga mussel die-offs and low densities have been observed, yet we have little to no understanding of biological/environmental factors contributing to the control of this invasive species. Lake Havasu is a popular freshwater fishing destination where state and world record redear sunfish are being captured, probably in association with the establishment of quagga mussels (redear sunfish are known to consume both quagga mussels and red swamp crayfish, the latter also consumes quagga mussels). Angling creel surveys are not typically conducted on Havasu, yet lake conditions and the overall food web may be changing due to establishment of quagga mussels. Changes in aquatic habitat conditions as a result of mussel infestation is important to understand because federally endangered species like the razorback sucker depend on the lake conditions which is critical to Reclamation operations under the Endangered Species Act. Life history of the quagga mussel needs to be described and understood in the Colorado River in the event that a particular life history stage or seasonal event may be identified as vulnerable to control. Additionally, ecological impacts from the establishment of quagga mussels in western United States need to be understood, in association with presence of endangered species and Bureau of Reclamation water releases and deliveries.

Need and Benefit

Quagga mussel, an invasive pest to the Colorado River and some other areas in the western United States has become established in the lower Colorado River. This invasive has the potential to clog intakes to turbines, cooling water towers, water delivery structures, fish screening facilities, and other Reclamation operations because of its capacity to attach and clog structures. However, the life cycle and ecological impacts of quagga mussel infestation in the western United States is not well understood. Biological and ecological information of this invasive needs to be understood in order to reduce its' impacts to Reclamation's ability to deliver water in an economical cost effective and environmentally friendly manner.

Contributing Partners

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Last Updated: 6/22/20