The Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds aquatic invasive species monitoring program involves veliger sampling for zebra and quagga mussels in waterbodies throughout the province. Aquatic invasive species are non-native species that can be introduced and become established in areas where they are not naturally found. Once established, they can be very difficult to eradicate and result in a negative environmental and economic impact. Zebra and quagga mussels will out-complete native species for food and disrupt habitats, in addition to impacting infrastructure,including clogging water intakes, damaging boats and shorelines, as well as negatively impacting recreation on waterbodies.
In partnership with the Invasive Species Center, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and their Aquatic Invasive Species Strategy, the SAW team sampled 47 waterbodies throughout Saskatchewan in 2022 and submitted the samples for analysis to determine the presence or absence of zebra and quagga mussels. The sampling process involved using a tow net to collect a water sample to sample for the presence of veligers, which are the free-swimming larval form of the mussels, as well as eDNA monitoring. eDNA stands for environmental DNA, which is the genetic material present in the environment where an organism lives.
2022 Sampled Waterbodies
Monitoring our waterbodies for unwanted aquatic invasive mussels is important for early detection across many lakes in Saskatchewan. Our sampling efforts aid in monitoring for mussel veliger and mussel eDNA. All organisms leave traces of DNA in their environment. This DNA can be extracted from the environment and used to identify the organism that left it behind. This is called eDNA or Environmental DNA. This technology is extremely helpful for the early detection of invasive mussels. Select lakes around Saskatchewan are being tested using this technology.
Female Zebra and Quagga Mussels can release up to one million eggs each breeding season!
a free-floating immature mussel or mussel larva.
Veligers can be transported in undrained water found in watercraft, motors, bait buckets, etc.