Zebra mussel research launched
While the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has greatly expanded its inspection and decontamination program, it’s difficult to target prevention efforts because little is known about how zebra mussels spread and there still isn’t a reliable way to know if a lake has been infested--until adult mussels have been discovered, and this can be hit-or-miss.
With new funds being provided to Minnesota counties starting this year, the demand for this type of information is increasing. People need to know how and where to target prevention efforts for the best chance of stopping these invaders.
Dr. Michael McCartney, research assistant professor with the MAISRC, is looking for ways to help managers make these kinds of decisions. Using the most modern molecular genetics tools available, he aims to determine the sources of invasion of Minnesota’s inland waters so prevention efforts can target lakes at highest risk of future invasions. He also hopes to develop early detection methods for zebra mussels and their microscopic larvae, called veligers. Current methods are time-consuming and subject to error. Dr. McCartney believes that if he can develop a highly sensitive and rapid water test to detect the presence of zebra mussel veligers, containment and control actions can be triggered before an infestation becomes a problem. This will become increasingly important as molluscicides (e.g., Zequanox) become available for limited application. The initial phase of Dr. McCartney’s work is expected to conclude in 2016.