Quantitative assessment of invasive species in lacustrine environments through benthic imagery analysis


The establishment, spread, and impact of the invasive bivalve Corbicula fluminea (C. fluminea), in Lake Tahoe threatens native species distribution in the lake and, potentially, has long-term implications for water clarity. In 2009, UBC-Gavia, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), was used as a platform to collect georeferenced imagery of the benthic regions of Lake Tahoe to determine the lake-wide distribution of C. fluminea. Images were collected in water depths less than 10 m at an approximately constant height above the bottom of 2 m. Images were processed using a semi-automated procedure to determine the ratio of the lakebed covered by exposed C. flumineashells. A visual review was conducted on a subset of the images to determine presence of filamentous algae that has been observed in association with C. fluminea. Nearly 100 km of shoreline was covered over a 7-d period, and C. fluminea presence was reconfirmed in 4 regions and additional 10 regions identified. In regions where the presence of C. fluminea was confirmed, C. fluminea depth distribution was validated by comparing image detection counts and results from a benthic sediment grab sample survey. Three regions around the lake were identified to have filamentous green algae or charophyte species. It was impossible to identify species of the known filamentous algal taxa (Cladophora glomerata, Spirogyra spp., and Zygnema spp.). The collected imagery provides a synoptic view on species distribution within the lake that can be used for efficient monitoring of invasive species in freshwater and saltwater bodies.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Limnology and Oceanography: Methods


10, Issue 1





Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type

Journal Article