How you can help prevent invasive species in the Great Lakes

We’ve all read news articles about various invasive species that have entered the Great Lakes ecosystem – but do many of us know how to prevent their spread? According to representatives from the Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA), there are strategies that we can all adopt to protect our environment. And on Thursday, April 4, this group will hold a free informational event to teach these tactics to the community. More specifically, the session will focus on the New Zealand Mudsnail – an invasive species that you might not be aware of.

“New Zealand Mudsnails are on Michigan’s Watch List and pose an immediate and significant threat to Michigan’s natural resources,” said McKenzi Bergmoser, coordinator for the Lake St. Clair CISMA. “They have been found in five of Michigan’s most important trout rivers and we need your help in preventing them from spreading.”

So what exactly is the New Zealand Mudsnail? According to the state of Michigan:

“The New Zealand Mudsnail is a gastropod of the genus Potamopyrgus within Hydrobiidae. This small aquatic snail is native to New Zealand and typically measures between 4-5mm in size. Its dextral, spiraling shell is helpful in identification. The gray to light or dark brown shell is coneshaped and slender with a pointed whorl. Adults have seven to eight right-handed whorls and can measure up to 12 mm long. The operculum is ovate in shape, resembling an ear; this feature separates this species from other freshwater snails.”

The snails can tolerate a wide variety of habitats, including reservoirs, estuaries, rivers, and lakes. They are most prolific in water bodies with a constant temperature and flow, but are highly adaptable. Their diet consists of diatoms, detritus and plant and animal matter attached to submerged debris.

So why does this all matter? Well, mudsnails do not have to reproduce sexually. This means that in a matter of one year, a single female could create a colony of 40 million snails. That’s incredible! Making matters worse, the mudsnails hold no nutritional value for native fishes, so populations in the U.S. do not fall subject to predation.

This is where the community comes in. Since New Zealand Mudsnails can reproduce wild amounts with no known predators, it is our job to stop their growth. Which is why the Lake St. Clair CISMA is hosting its free April 4 event at the Lake St. Clair Metropark Nature Center at 5 p.m. There is no registration required, the goal is to simply get local residents to attend so they can learn how to prevent the mudsnail population from rising. We hope to see you there.

For more information on the event, click here. And for more information on the New Zealand Mudsnail, please visit the following resources:

 

Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.

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