Quagga mussels can have a profound impact on the way a habitat works and functions in the water. For example, they can form large colonies on hard surfaces like pipes, and threaten water supplies, as well as cause widespread flooding.
They have been found predominantly in the UK, but recently were found in the Great Lakes, after ships deposited them into the newly uninhabited waters, for these mussels. For some time, little was known about the species. However, the tide has turned on that front and now much is known about the small creatures.
Originally the Quagga mussels had originated from the region immediately around the Black and Caspian seas. They feed on various types of algae, and currently there is no known eradication method to remove them from a body of water once they’re present.
Specifically, in the United States they’ve been found in the Great Lakes, the Mississippi river basin, as well as a few artificial channels that were created in the Chicago area, causing concern for water systems across the country.
Right now engineers are working to stop the Quagga mussels from impact Las Vegas’ water supply, as the mussels have begun colonizing within the dam’s turbines, which has caused a blocking of pipes, and inability to operate – should conditions continue to worsen.
Scientists in the UK have already identified the Quagga mussel species as the greatest threat to UK wildlife of any alien species. Similar findings could be true within the United States as well, should the threat to the nation’s water supply continue to be seen within these species.
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Right now, it seems the best fight against this invasive mussel is simple cleaning and maintenance. Regularly cleaning, and maintaining any waterlogged equipment is paramount in fighting the creatures since they predominantly need hard surfaces to establish themselves. Certainly, eliminating human-made hard surfaces would go a long way to improving the overall conditions of the waterways, as they are still presented with Quagga mussels inside of them.
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Jeff Knott from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust called the mussels “devastating,” and urged that they would eventually “indirectly cause suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of native animals, fish and plants.” Many have also gone on to point out the actual cost of such an invasive species when it comes to tax dollars and general maintenance.