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Map tracks priority areas for invasive mussels, bolsters research

Zebra mussels
Zebra mussels

Invasive mussels like zebra and quagga mussels threaten Great Lakes ecosystems, fisheries, and infrastructure. A new toolis helping scientists and managers better target research at high-priority areas.

The new map is highlighting sensitive coastal areas, fish habitats, and mussel locations – in order to support research that tests mussel management strategies.

Samantha Tank is a project manager with the Great Lakes Commission. She said there’s no “silver bullet” for controlling invasive mussels, which is why experimental research is so important.

“We don't have many control options that can be implemented at the scale that we need to see those long-term ecosystem level impacts, so that’s what we’re working toward,” Tank said.

Tank said the map is just one of many tools needed to stop invasive mussels from taking over Great Lakes ecosystems.

“[The map] doesn't necessarily identify the “right” locations for [researchers], but it can be a piece of making those decisions," Tank said. "What are going to be high-quality sites that are going to address my specific research and management objectives?”

Invasive Mussel Collaborative

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.