Invasive Species in the Hill Country

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In recent weeks, Texas Parks and Wildlife has released information about the invasive species, the Zebra Mussel. This little mussel has been spotted in several Texas lakes and water ways. After reading the headline about the Zebra Mussel, there were some questions that needed to be answered. First, what is a Zebra Mussel, and why are they detrimental to the water systems? On top of this, you might be curious as to other invasive species that have been found in Texas waters and what you can do if you spot them.

Zebra Mussel

Invasive Species: Zebra Mussels on a propeller wheel.Photo: Flickr/Tom Britt

Introducing the Zebra Mussel is a good place to start. A Zebra Mussel is a small freshwater invasive species mussel that can cause great ecological damage. Their method of feeding is filter feeding. The Zebra Mussel sucks essential nutrients in the water that native fish species depend upon. Zebra Mussels can filter a liter of water a day, along with those nutrients in the water, per mussel. This leads to a decrease in food supply for native fish, thus wreaking havoc on native ecosystems.


Invasive Species: Nutria family feeding.Photo: Flickr/Rolf Brecher

Moving on, the Nutria, an invasive species that essentially is a mix of a large rodent and a beaver that looks like a rat, can be extremely detrimental to water systems. The Nutria are voracious eaters and their appetites consist of root systems that maintain banks of rivers and lakes. Additionally, they burrow into banks to establish their dens which can lead to structural damage to the properties of land owners. Contributing to this, Nutria are quick breeders and females can carry multiple litters of pups in a year, and as many as 13 pups at a time. Nutria are detrimental to native species because they have no natural predators in many of the water ways they are found.

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