A destructives species of mussels called Quagga (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) has been found in the United Kingdom and this could have unwanted effects on British water supply and endanger native species.
A study conducted by researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), which was published in the journal Global Change Biology on May 18, predicted that the Quagga mussel, a native of Ukraine, would arrive in the U.K in the next five years.
The CEH described the mollusk as the top ranking threat to the country's natural biodiversity as it poses risks for damage with its ability to alter the ecology of freshwater environments. It appears though that the estimated period for the Quagga's arrival is too long because the invasive species is already spotted in a reservoir in the U.K.
The mollusks, which measure less than 5 cm in length and is nearly indistinguishable to the native zebra mussel, was discovered at the Wraysbury reservoir London Heathrow Airport last week, the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) has said, and their presence is anticipated to have unwanted consequences.
The Quagga mussels, which wildlife experts describe as ecosystem engineers for their ability to filter water, eat native species. They also pose problems to the balance of the food web because they remove substantial amounts of phytoplankton decreasing the food source of zooplanktons that have essential role in the food web. The mollusc likewise eats pollutants and disposes them as toxic feces and this can poison drinking water used by humans and wildlife.
This species also breed prolifically. An adult bivalve has the capacity to produce one million eggs in one year so this species produces large colonies that attach to hard surfaces. As a result, they clog water structures, block pipes and cause flooding that could cause damage and unnecessary spending. Once established, it could be very difficult to remove these colonies from reservoirs.
"This is worrying, but entirely predictable. Quagga mussels are likely to indirectly cause suffering and death for hundreds of thousands of native animals, fish and plants and cost millions of pounds in tax and water bills to protect drinking water supplies." said WWT's head of conservation policy Jeff Knott.
The WWT said that the Quagga often spreads because of human activity. The mollusks attach themselves to boats, making it essential for boaters and other water users to clean, check and dry their equipment when they pack up to slow down the spread of this species.