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Flathead Bio Station Adds Polson Bay Monitoring Site

A boat at the Flathead Lake Biological Station.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Flathead Lake Biological Station.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station added a new monitoring site in Polson Bay last month that could help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and generate valuable information about the ecosystem.

Jim Elser, director of the Station, says near Polson the lake is shallower and warmer than at the other monitoring station, and sees different kinds of use.

"Scientifically speaking, the south part of the lake is almost a different lake. Adding the south basin of the lake is like adding another lake to our studies."

Among other tests at the new station, scientists will look for zebra and quagga mussel larvae that live in plankton. Those mussels often grow in shallow, warm conditions.

"I hope this never happens but we might see them first there, if they appear," Elser says.

The bio station also consulted and partnered with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the project. Elser says a contribution from the Flathead Lakers helped get the project up and running, but its continued operation will depend on more funding, including proceeds from an ongoing drive to raise money from local businesses.

Data collection began last month and will continue until the lake ices over.

Nick Mott is a reporter and podcast producer based in Livingston, Montana.
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