Quagga and zebra mussels are invasive species that pose a risk to Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs. Although they can cause millions of dollars in structural and environmental damage, researchers have, alas, not yet developed a method of eradicating the species. Consequently, the key to control is early detection of the mussels. Water samples are collected at the reservoirs then sent to the lab to be examined for the presence of the mussels’ larvae, called veligers. If veligers are found, DNA tests are conducted to identify the type of mussel. This early detection and identification prepares policy makers to manage the funding and activity needed to combat the potential structure damage caused by these species.
GBI interns assigned to the Reclamation Detection Laboratory for Exotic Species (RDLES) assist with various tasks, including water sample collection and data processing, and have also helped with research on boat inspection and decontamination methods. These efforts contribute to the BOR’s ongoing work to control the spread of non-native organisms in each of the seventeen western states in which the organization manages water.