The Pennsylvania Zebra and Quagga Mussel Monitoring Network is dedicated to protecting Pennsylvania's aquatic habitats from the threat of two harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS), zebra and quagga mussels.
In the Great Lakes region alone, Ohio Sea Grant estimates that water users spend more than $30 million each year for treatments to control zebra mussels. These mussels clog water intake pipes and disrupt aquatic communities by filtering food that native species rely upon. After storm events, beaches are littered with sharp shells that can injure beach goers walking barefoot.
Zebra mussels probably came to the Great Lakes in the ballast tanks of ships. They were first discovered in Lake St. Clair in 1988, and then found in Lake Erie in the late 1980's. In 1991, quagga mussels were found in Lake Erie. Since then, invasive mussels have spread and become established in several inland lakes and rivers in Pennsylvania. See the complete timeline for zebra mussels and quagga mussels in Pennsylvania at the USGS web site.
Interested in helping to protect Pennsylvania's lakes, rivers and streams?
Want to get outdoors more often? Or are you already working in the field and want to help out? Become part of the solution; join the Pennsylvania Zebra and Quagga Mussel Monitoring Network.
To get involved, contact email@example.com or call Sarah Whitney at 610-304-8753.
How do zebra mussels and quagga mussels spread to new locations?
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to possess or transport zebra and quagga mussels. However, in most cases, people spread invasive mussels without knowing it. Both mussels can survive out of water for up to five days, making it easy for them to be carried from lake to lake on recreational boating equipment, fishing gear, and diving equipment. Adult mussels canattach to boat hulls, trailers, motors, vegetation and equipment left in the water using sticky fibers called byssal threads. In their youngest form the microscopic larvae, called veligers, can move to new locations naturally by floating along in a water body for up to 4 weeks.
Why is monitoring important?
In Pennsylvania, only a few of the 12,000 lakes and 84,000 miles of streams are infested with invasive mussels. Monitoring is needed:
- To detect them before they become established
- To find existing populations, so that lake and river users can be alerted to help prevent their spread
- To develop control and monitoring plans for infested lakes and water bodies