Mussel Monitoring

View from the water of a large group of boats near a sandy beach. The beach is full of campers, RVs, and tents.

NPS Photo


Lake Powell is intensively monitored for mussels by the National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Hundreds of water samples are taken from the lake and analyzed using scientifically proven methods each year.

Two people stare at a computer screen hooked up to a microscope.

Analyzing FlowCAM images.

NPS Photo

The Glen Canyon water lab uses four early detection methods, including microscopic analysis, automated particle analysis (FlowCAM), Polymerase Chain Reaction (the DNA test), and the deployment of artificial substrates to detect early colonization. Sampling occurs lake-wide at routine sites like marinas and dams. Computers are also used to determine random sampling locations throughout the lake. More samples are collected from high-use areas with heavy boat traffic, as these areas are most susceptible to the spread of invasive mussels by boat.

Jar filled with water and mussels.

Quagga mussels collected off a boat on Lake Powell.

NPS Photo

The Glen Canyon water lab continues to analyze water samples taken from Lake Powell to determine the range and extent of mussel colonization in the lake. Measurements are taken from mussels found on vessels, structures, and canyon walls before they are destroyed. This data makes up one of the first studies of an early mussel infestation in a water body the size of Lake Powell.

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