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Zebra Mussel Citizen Science Project Launch

The Lake of the Woods District Stewardship Association invites its members and the public to partake in a new citizen science program in search of zebra mussels (Dreissena polyporpha) within Lake of the Woods and surrounding water bodies. These freshwater bivalves are an invasive species that have devastated many lakes where they have been introduced. Their veliger (larval) form was reported by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources within the southern basin of Lake of the Woods in fall of 2019, but adult mussels have yet to be confirmed. It is unknown whether the water chemistry in Lake of the Woods is suitable to support an adult population, but early detection of adults will allow for early intervention, which would give us the best chance of effectively managing the invasive. 

This citizen science program will help with early detection of zebra mussels by distributing settlement samplers below docks across the Lake of the Woods district. If you are interested in participating, answer these questions: Do you have multi-year access to a dock that could host a device placed a couple feet above the lakes floor? Can you check the device every few weeks? If yes, you can apply here

Zebra mussels were transported to North America in the ballast water of large ships in the 80s. They thrive in these new waters as they outcompete existing native species, releasing 1 million eggs per spawning season and filtering through one liter of water per day - effectively  reducing available food and resources for other organisms. With their sharp shells and quick reproduction cycle they quickly take over shorelines, rocks, pipes, boats, motors, dams, and other surfaces. 

The mussels are a huge threat to the Lake of the Woods waterways. Due to the quick expansion of population and effective nature in outcompeting native species these mussels have potential to cause devastating issues in recreation, the environment, infrastructure, and our economy.

To see the devices or learn how to build your own, visit the LakeSmart team at the Matiowski Farmer’s Market or at our Mobile Boat Wash Station! For more information, check out the attached infosheet.

This program is made possible thanks to the Invasive Species Centre’s Education and Community Action Microgrant, check out their other projects here!