invertebrates

MAISRC focuses its research efforts on species that have been prioritized based on their proximity to Minnesota, pathway of spread, and impact. This list of high risk/high priority species is updated annually with the help of a 9-member inter-organizational Technical Committee (MTC) and with input from the Center’s Advisory Board and the Center’s faculty members.

Active research is underway at MAISRC on many of these species. We will expand our research to additional priority species as funding and partnership opportunities become available.


MAISRC high-priority species:


Species established in Minnesota with known high risk of spread and high impact:

  • Spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus)
  • Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)
  • Quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis)
  • Faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata)

Species established in Minnesota but with uncertain likelihood of spread and/or level of impact:

  • Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)
  • New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)

Species not known to be present in Minnesota, pathway risk is unknown, but high-impact elsewhere: 

  • Ponto-Caspian amphipod (Echinogammarus ischnus)
  • Killer shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus)
  • Caspian mud shrimp (Chelicorophium curvispinum)
  • Red Swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)

Species currently being researched at MAISRC:

Zebra mussels

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are one of the most widespread invasive freshwater animals in the world. Their huge populations attach to hard surfaces, clog intake pipes for water treatment and power generating plants, encrust boat motors and hulls, and their sharp shells cut swimmer’s feet. They can smother and cause extinctions of native bivalve mollusks.

Researchers are using population genetic and genomic markers to study spread, estimate the contribution of veligers in residual water to the risk of spread, develop early detection tests, and pilot-study the effectiveness of pesticide treatments in lakes. Learn more . . .

zebra mussel


Spiny waterflea

Spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus) are a microscopic freshwater zooplankton that invade lakes and can take over the bottom of the food chain, disturbing the ecology of the lake and presenting a serious potential threat to Minnesota lakes. They can decimate populations of Daphnia and other native zooplankton resulting in a decreased food source for native fish and an increase in algal blooms. They can also clog the eyelets of fishing rods, causing problems for recreationalists.

Because it is not yet well understood how their establishment and proliferation translates into impacts on native game fish, MAISRC researchers are using paleolimnology data to more fully identify the long-term impacts of spiny waterflea. Learn more . . .

spiny waterflea

Quagga mussels

Quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis “bugensis") pose problems similar to zebra mussels. The two species have much in common, including a similar native range, morphology, life style, life history, and physiology. Ecologically, they filter enormous quantities of microscopic algae and divert energy flow through aquatic ecosystems, with potential impacts on fish populations that may exceed those of zebra mussels.

Current research at MAISRC focuses on characterizing the total microbial community structures associated with quagga mussels to determine if they have any potential biocontrol options. Learn more . . .

quagga mussels