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My Town: Waterfowl killer spreads in Great Lakes basin | Environment

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My Town: Waterfowl killer spreads in Great Lakes basin
Environment
My Town: Waterfowl killer spreads in Great Lakes basin

MUSKEGON, Mich.—A destructive invader has made its way to the Great Lakes basin.

In a three-year study, researchers from ten universities, including the Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute, recently found invasive faucet snails in many new locations throughout the Great Lakes basin.  The snails carry parasites that are deadly to native waterfowl, including ducks and coots.

The findings suggest faucet snails have spread to more areas along the Great Lakes coastline than experts realized. The snail is only about a half-inch in height, making them easy to transport and spread and difficult to kill.   When waterfowl eat the infected snails, the trematodes the snails carry attack the ducks’ internal organs, causing lesions and hemorrhaging.  Infected birds appear lethargic and have problems diving and flying before dying.

 “Coastal wetlands provide numerous ecosystem services, yet are critically threatened,” said Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute, and a collaborator on the project. “This is another example of how our natural systems are constantly at risk, and why it is so important to remain vigilant, as is being done through this basin-wide monitoring effort.”

The research team also plans to release its study on the spread of non-native fish soon.

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