Creation of survey and monitoring protocols, and development of a research program for studying the effectiveness of zebra mussel pesticide treatment efforts

Project manager: Mike McCartney

Funded by: Clean Water Fund

Description: Minnesota has been a leader in pilot-testing of zebra mussel lake pesticide treatment efforts, including the case of Christmas Lake in 2014—the first open water non-research application of Zequanox®.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has formally begun a pilot project program for these attempts, but a research plan to obtain and analyze outcome data so that the effectiveness of pilot project efforts can be evaluated scientifically was needed. 

As part of a committee, researchers wrote several documents to help guide future zebra mussel treatments, including describing methods for a baseline survey of the abundance and distribution of zebra mussels within a newly infested lake and a set of protocols for monitoring permitted projects. These are far more detailed and estimate mortality. 

MAISRC is also working to formulate an experimental design and a plan for data collection and analysis that will allow us to perform a scientific study of zebra mussel pesticide treatments. This includes collaboration with a highly specialized biologist and identifying candidate lakes.

This will evaluate whether pesticide treatments can eradicate infestations and/or whether they suppress population growth of early infestations. The materials are being made available to the public as a set of pre- and post-treatment protocols developed in collaboration with the DNR. 

Project state date: 2015

Project end date: 2016

Final results:

In partnership with the Minnesota DNR Invasive Species program, MAISRC provided a description of the Pilot Project Program and the application process to obtain a permit for treating newly infested lakes, available online here.

Along with this, we have authored two sets of monitoring protocols. The first set is known as “baseline protocols,” and these are used to gather information in order to prepare a permit application. Baseline protocols are available online here. We have also completed the final working draft of the post-treatment protocols. These are not available online, but rather can be obtained from the Invasive Species Specialist in the region in which a lake that is a candidate for treatment is located. Lakeshore residents and other citizens interested in initiating a treatment attempt start the process by contacting their Invasive Species Specialist, who will work with them to help facilitate the work that must be done to fulfill the post-treatment monitoring requirements set by permit. Post-treatment monitoring must be done for 3 years.

At the conclusion of this project, a need for post-treatment monitoring protocols in the design of surveys for adult mussels both within and outside the treatment area was identified. This is being addressed by another MAISRC project, Cost-effective monitoring of lakes newly infested with zebra mussels.