Causes and Consequences of Mollusk Invasions Throughout the Illinois River Watershed

Aquatic invasive species are detrimental to wildlife, affect water quality, and negatively impact ecosystems, infrastructure, and recreation. Despite these negative impacts, little is known about interactions between the more than 140 invasive species in the Upper Mississippi River basins. Mollusks (including snails, mussels, and clams) compose a large part of invasive biodiversity in the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Big Rivers of the Midwestern United States. Reliable sampling methods are often impractical for small organisms occupying riverbeds. Additionally, little is known about the interactions among these invasive species and native biodiversity. We propose the establishment of a cost-effective, reliable method to detect DNA from all major mollusks in the Illinois River watershed. We will then identify ecological correlates of invasion of each species, as well as their co-occurrence with other invasive species. Last, we will identify associations in native mussel and fish communities associated with the occurrences of invasive mollusks.

  • PI: Joel Corush
  • PI Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • January 11, 2023 – January 10, 2025