An invasive snail species has been discovered in Lake Tahoe for the first time, sparking concerns about the local ecosystem.
The New Zealand mud snail is an invasive species in the United States that has spread to 22 states including California, Nevada, Colorado and the Great Lakes since it was first discovered in Idaho in 1987.
“Divers monitoring Lake Tahoe discovered invasive New Zealand mud snails in an area off the south shore,” the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) said in a statement Friday. This is the first time this species has been found in the Tahoe Basin.”
“Contract divers from Marine Taxonomy Services Inc. while surveying the South Shore for invasive weeds discovered the tiny snails on the lake bottom nearly half a mile from the mouth of the Upper Truckee River. Expert consultation and DNA laboratory analysis confirmed that the New Zealand mud snails are An aquatic invasive species (AIS) that has been found in nearby waterways, including the Lower Truckee River downstream of Lake Tahoe near Reno, Nevada. Other AIS, such as the destructive quagga and zebra mussels, have not yet been found. According to Relevant agencies said it had been discovered.”
The snails are thought to have been brought to the United States through shipping activity or aquaculture, and they have spread across the country, possibly because aquatic recreational and fishing gear is not properly cleaned. California discovered the first population of New Zealand mud snails in the Owens River in 2000, and all western states except New Mexico now have permanent populations of the species, according to the Invasive Species Research Center at the University of California, Riverside.
“They are considered invasive because of their ability to cause ecological damage and subsequent economic damage,” Emily Bovee, a former New Zealand mud snail researcher at the University of Auckland and now a researcher at the Detroit Zoo, told reporters. Weekly newspaper. “They are able to reproduce through a method called parthenogenesis, which means they can clone themselves.
“So introducing a single female to a body of water has the potential to allow a new population to grow. This allows their population to grow very rapidly, and they can reach incredibly high population densities. At such high densities, they can overtake other populations .” native invertebrates in an ecosystem, leaving fewer resources and nutrients for species further up the food web, such as fish. “
The snails, which only grow to about 0.15 to 0.24 inches in length, feed on plant and animal detritus, algae and diatoms in waterways. This is a problem because native invertebrates are unable to get the food they need and are outcompeted, causing huge ripple effects throughout the waterway food web.
Because of their ability to reproduce asexually, each snail can produce approximately 230 offspring per year, resulting in densities of these snails as high as 46,500 per square foot. This makes them an especially formidable invasive species as they quickly proliferate and replace themselves.
“Unfortunately, once they become established in a new body of water, it is nearly impossible to remove them,” Bovey said. “They are highly adaptable to a variety of environmental conditions, so no way to remove them has yet been found. Proven methods can target NZMS without disturbing other native species. And because they are so small, physically removing them is not feasible. This is why water recreation enthusiasts must properly clean their equipment after each use, especially before traveling to a different lake or river as they may unknowingly introduce NZMS and other aquatic invasive species into new areas.”
In response to this new invasive species in Lake Tahoe, one of the most protected bodies of water in the United States, TRPA has deployed scientists to determine the snail population in the lake and is developing plans to, if possible, eradicate the snails.
“Lake Tahoe has a well-established network of regional and national partners who are working together to reduce the incidence of AIS,” Dennis Zabaglo, TRPA’s aquatic invasive species program manager and incident team co-lead, said in a statement. threat.” “The incident team and our partners are committed to protecting Lake Tahoe and will work together to evaluate options to respond to this new discovery.”
In the meantime, every boater, paddler and angler on the lake is urged to “clean, drain and dry” any equipment or watercraft that enters the water and avoid using live bait while fishing.
“Strong protocols require decontamination of every vessel known to have been in water associated with New Zealand mud snails or other AIS, thereby reducing the risk posed by vessels spreading these species [aquatic invasive species],” the statement read.
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