TROY, N.Y. -- Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that zebra mussel larvae die in water from New York's scenic Lake George.
Researchers at Rensselaer's Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) suspect that calcium levels in this important New York lake are too low for newborn zebra mussels to mature. Further tests are needed to determine exactly what causes healthy larvae to die within a week when placed in water from the 32-mile "Queen of American Lakes."
Older mussels have no difficulty developing when placed in Lake George water, said DFWI Director Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, professor and chair of biology at Rensselaer. But when larvae less than two weeks old are placed in the lake's water they all die within seven days. The young larvae develop at normal rates in water from Lake Champlain, which is already heavily populated by zebra mussels.
The tests were all conducted in the DFWI laboratories on Rensselaer's Troy campus and not at the university's field station at Bolton Landing. "Understandably, we did not conduct these tests in the lake itself. But we did try to mimic lake conditions to the best of our ability so that we could predict what would happen in the lake," Nierzwicki-Bauer said.
Good News for Lake George The recent discovery will come as good news for Lake George residents, tourists, and business people who have followed the five-year zebra mussel research at the DFWI with great interest.
Zebra mussels are not welcome at Lake George since they are a nuisance species. In infested waters, they clog water intake pipes that supply reservoirs and industry. They cling in crusty masses to boat docks and buoys. Their shelled corpses stink on hot sandy beaches. They torture bare feet, drive out tourists, steal food from native mollusks, and disrupt the fragile ecosystem.
But celebrations of the discovery should be tempered by the fact that zebra
mussels in more advanced stages of maturity can enter Lake George a
Contact: Bruce Adams
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute