Invasive species discovered in lake

TICONDEROGA - The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Darrin Fresh Water Institute has discovered a new invasive fresh water clam species in Lake George.

This species was located in the village of Lake George and poses a serious threat to native mussels and the Lake George ecosystem, according to Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, director of DFWI.

Nierzwicki-Bauer said the species - Corbicula fluminea - is an invasive clam from Asia, capable of self fertilization, achieving densities of thousands per square meter, and crowding native species from their typical habitats.

Commonly known as the Asian clam, it is a light brown triangular clam that can survive in fresh and brackish waters. If the invasion is a localized one, it may be possible to eradicate, she added. The dominant native mussel in Lake George is Elliptio complanata.

"It is imperative that we move quickly to determine the extent of this infestation to assess the best treatment options that can be undertaken immediately," said Nierzwicki-Bauer, who is also a professor of biology at Rensselaer. "We have reached out to the regulatory agencies to assess all our options."

The Lake George environmental organizations have contracted to bring in an expert in invertebrate biology and scientific SCUBA, Dan Marelli from Florida. He has worked with DFWI scientists for over 15 years to help coordinate SCUBA surveys, and he will direct new surveys that will be carried out by FUND for Lake George, DFWI, Bateaux Below Inc., and volunteer divers.

Immediate plans include a survey of the shallow and embayment areas to establish the extent of infestation. Possible eradication or management strategies include use of a benthic barrier, essentially a plastic mat that could "smother" the clams, suction harvesting, or a combination of these methods. Currently, benthic mats are being used on a one-acre area in Lake Tahoe, Calif., to help manage the infestation there. Preliminary field work by DFWI staff indicates that a minimum of 2.5 acres in Lake George is infested.

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