Montana Scientists Look to New Methods for Invasive Mussel Detection

Scientists believe they might have found a useful tool in efforts to help detect and stop the spread of invasive mussels in Montana and into the Columbia Basin. But agencies say its not going to immediately replace boat inspections and plankton sampling as the first steps to find mussels.

“When you’re looking for the new arrival of an invasive species it’s always a needle in a haystack and you could find or miss them with any technique that you’re using,” said Flathead Lake Biological Station Assistant Director Tom Bansak.

Bansak says that with early detection key for prevention, it’s critical for scientists to use every technique possible to test Montana’s waters for invasive mussels and sample as frequently as funding allows.

“The limiting factor is going to be how much money do we have to look because the more you look the more likely you are to find whether you’re using Villager microscopy or Environmental DNA [eDNA],” Bansak said.  Click on the following paragraph to access the full story.

Using eDNA sampling, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks detected invasive mussel DNA in the Tiber Reservoir last year. However, results from the eDNA sampling revealed no presence of adult mussels — also known as villagers.  “Even though there were no Villagers were found in the state’s sampling this summer that does not mean there are no Zebras and Quaggas there,” Bansak told MTN News.

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