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NEVADA FWO: Pilot Project Aims to Control Spread of Asian Clams in Lake Tahoe
California-Nevada Offices , July 28, 2010
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Divers work to position  10-ft x 10-ft rubber mats over clam beds in Lake Tahoe. (photo: USFWS) 
Divers work to position  10-ft x 10-ft rubber mats over clam beds in Lake Tahoe. (photo: USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a
With snow-covered mountains above the lake, divers work in the clear waters of Lake Tahoe to position rubber mats over clam beds. (photo: USFWS) 
With snow-covered mountains above the lake, divers work in the clear waters of Lake Tahoe to position rubber mats over clam beds. (photo: USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a
Asian clam beds and algae in Lake Tahoe. (photo: USFWS) 
Asian clam beds and algae in Lake Tahoe. (photo: USFWS)  - Photo Credit: n/a

by Steve Chilton, Nevada FWO
Since 2008, an Asian clam working group has been actively planning and implementing a pilot project to determine the most efficient treatment strategies to control Asian clam populations in Lake Tahoe.  In 2009, a experimental strategy was implemented, incorporating the placement of 10-ft x 10-ft rubber mats typically used to line man-made ponds over the clam beds.  

These rubber bottom barriers created an environment underneath where there was zero dissolved oxygen for the clams to use.  The oxygen-starving method was proven to be effective during the pilot study which was conducted by researchers from the University of California at Davis, Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the University of Nevada, Reno. 

A test run of the bottom barrier deployment apparatus (designed by UC Davis engineers) was conducted in March 2010, at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe.  The test run showed that deployment and retrieval of larger 10-ft X 100-ft barriers could be accomplished with little complication.

In July of 2010, the pilot project was expanded to cover two half-acre plots; one at Lakeside Marina, in California and one at Marla Bay, Nevada.  This up-scaled pilot project will provide needed information on the logistics and cost effectiveness of large-scale implementation, impacts to Asian clam and other benthic macro invertebrates, and the re-colonization rates of these species on a large scale.

Asian clam populations in Lake Tahoe have expanded greatly since they were first detected in 2002.   At that time populations were sparse.  Their growth and expansion in Lake Tahoe was linked with filamentous green algae blooms in 2008,  triggering a significant effort by many agencies and research universities to control source and satellite populations of the clams. 

While the clams can produce immediate problems, such as algae blooms, a greater concern is that they could chemically alter Tahoe's waters to allow successful invasion of other non-native species such as quagga or zebra mussels.

 


Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov



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