The damage done to fisheries and water supply infrastructures by zebra mussels has been documented for decades.
But now one researcher has discovered that these exotic shellfish are benefiting a few lucky waterfront property owners, even as they wreak havoc on ecosystems.
“We find that property values generally are higher on lakes with zebra mussels,” said Martin Meder, a University of Wisconsin economics student who decided to analyze state data for 400 lakes.
With the assistance of Marianne Johnson, a College of Business economics professor, he looked at property assessments for sale of houses on lakes known to be infested with zebra mussels.
Meder added that his research doesn’t address the causation, but “with statistical certainty, I can say that zebra mussels are associated with an approximately 10 percent increase in lakefront property prices.”
He theorized that the increased water clarity that comes with a zebra mussel infestation is one reason for the increase.
And, he added, “Some research has shown that they (zebra mussels) disadvantage some unpopular fish species. They blanket the bottom of the lake bed so carp can’t feed . . .
“They also seem to be advantageous to fish species that people like, like smallmouth bass.”