The ability of scent detection canines to detect the presence of quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) veligers

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The discovery of quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) in Lake Mead in 2007 was the catalyst for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to train their canines to detect adult quagga mussels by scent. The use of specialized detection dogs has increased the effectiveness of watercraft inspections and helped prevent further infestations by this invasive species. Since these canines are currently being utilized to detect adult and juvenile quagga mussels, we investigated if canines can detect the veliger larvae stage, as the transportation of larva via watercraft remains a potential pathway of introduction. Although the canines were already imprinted for adult quagga mussels, in which an odor is associated with reward, they required further training to reliably detect veliger larvae populations. Over the course of a 3-day study the canines’ detection rates became more sensitive as familiarity with the veliger odor training progressed. For the lowest concentration blind trial (31 veligers per jar), all canines used in the experiment were able to correctly identify samples with veligers larvae after training.

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