Saturday, 11 October 2014

A highly destructive, invasive, mussel threatens Britain for first time

Quagga mussels, an invasive mussel that UK scientists have identified as the number one most dangerous alien species, are threatening Britain’s wetlands.

Quagga mussels are less than 5cm long but breed prolifically, forming vast colonies on hard surfaces that can smother boat hulls, block pipes and potentially cause flooding.
And for the first time the mussels have been found in Britain at Wraysbury Reservoir near Heathrow Airport, a popular sailing, fishing and scuba diving lake that’s also a protected area for wildlife, and upstream from The Wildfowl & Wetland Trust’s London Wetland Centre.

This is extremely worrying wildlife experts are warning. Quagga mussels have been described as 'ecosystem engineers' because their vast capacity to filter water upsets the natural balance throughout the food web. They eat some pollutants, but they turn it into concentrated toxic faeces which can poison drinking water for people and wildlife.

Earlier this year the quagga mussel was unanimously identified by a group of scientists as the greatest single threat to Britain’s wildlife of any alien species. In the US the mussel is threatening to bring the Hoover dam to a standstill and cut off water to Las Vegas.

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