Solutions Quagga mussel in space and time

Waterboard Rijnland

Commissioned by Waterboard Rijnland, BioMon partner CML is developing a cost effective way to setup an early warning system for the presence of the invasive Quagga Mussel. Simultaneously, we are developing a DNA based monitoring tool to follow Quagga population density (through biomass) and reproduction in water bodies where the species has established itself.

Since 2004 the Quagga Mussel (Dreissene burgensis) has been occurring in the Dutch waterways. This species originates from Eastern Europe and is known for its invasive characteristics at locations where it doesn’t natively occur, such as the big lakes of Northern America. In the Rijnland Waterboard managing area this Mussel species has been increasingly observed in different water bodies, where their presence can potentially result in ecosystem changes and accordingly changes in water quality.

Dreissena species are filter-feeders (rapidly filtering large volumes of water) which can decrease and increase turbidity and organic matter in the water which in turn affects water quality positively or negatively. Therefore, a census of the quagga mussel must be taken once they are discovered within an area to monitor how they are affecting their environment. However, as mussel species normally occur on substrate on the bottom of water bodies it is difficult to get a clear picture of their occurrence and densities visually. Additionally, Quagga mussels look very similar to the closely related and often co-occurring Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha/Zebra mussel) which makes it hard to get a clear picture of the Quagga mussel only. Therefore, we have employed eDNA techniques to monitor quagga mussels in freshwater lakes in the Netherlands.


This study extracted eDNA from water samples taken from different lakes in The Netherlands where the quagga mussel has previously been reported within the district of Rijnland Water Control Board. By sampling spatially and temporally we aim to monitor the spatial occurrence and seasonal patterns, such as reproductive activity, of Quagga mussel colonies in Dutch lakes, which is key knowledge for water managers that are dealing with this species.

This research is stil ongoing.

In collaboration with: Rijnland Water Control Board

For more information please contact Krijn Trimbos.

Krijn Trimbos
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