- Author: Chris M. Webb
Invasive species can cause havoc to ecosystems.
Eradication efforts to eliminate invasive species, and even recommendations to reduce or slow the spread of invasive species, are often controversial. This controversy can slow and even stop programs and efforts to protect ecosystems.
It is important for us to remember that disruption of the balance in our ecosystems impacts our lives. What has recently happened to the fishing industry in Lake Michigan is an example of how drastically invasive species can change ecological balance and human lives.
Just a few years ago, quagga mussels were rarely found in Lake Michigan. Currently an estimated 900 trillion quagga mussels line the bottom of the lake. Each of these tiny mussels filter up to a liter of water per day. This filtering has dramatically altered the plankton population within the lake. Fishing, an industry that helped to support local communities along the lake shore for over 100 years, no longer exists. The problem is not overfishing, but a collapse in the food web that once supported the fish.
Nationwide billions of dollars are spent each year on combating invasive species. We can all help reduce the spread and introduction of invasive species by following some general guidelines, such as:
- Ensuring boats, equipment, and gear are free from invasive organisms before using in another body of water.
- Buy firewood in the same location you plan to burn it.
- Plant native plants and non-invasive plants in gardens and landscapes.
- Follow quarantine regulations.
- Do not flush or release fish or plants from tanks or ponds.
- Buy plants only from reputable and certified nurseries.
- Stay informed about local environmental issues.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
The University of California’s Early Detection Monitoring Manual for Quagga and Zebra Mussels publication defines aquatic invasive species (AIS) as ”non-native aquatic organisms that have caused, or likely will cause economic or ecological harm or impacts to human health (pg 1).”
Written by Ventura County UCCE’s Carolynn Culver and Monique Myers and Los Angeles County UCCE’s Sabrina Drill and Valerie Borel, this publication gives great background information while providing clear guidelines and instructions for monitoring small lakes, reservoirs and streams in California and is designed especially for citizen volunteer and monitoring groups. We hope that early detection of these species in California’s waterways will reduce their negative impacts. From the manual:
The sooner a population is detected, the more time there will be to take action and the higher the likelihood of successful eradication. Responding to an infestation at an early stage is also referred to as rapid response. Rapid response plans for AIS in general, and quagga/zebra mussels in particular, are being developed and updated in California (pg 1).”
For more information about these invasive species, check out the California Department of Fish and Game website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/quaggamussel/. Anyone interested in monitoring a water body is encouraged to contact your local Fish and Game authorities to coordinate efforts.
The Early Detection Monitoring Manual for Quagga and Zebra Mussels is available for viewing in the Ventura UCCE office (please call first to make sure) and for purchase online at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/. Use promo code PRVEN56 at checkout to receive a 10% discount. For orders of five or more, please contact our office for bulk discount rates.