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Invasive mussels causing massive ecological changes in Great Lakes
Date:4/13/2011

ussel, and wreaks even more havoc on these huge offshore systems," said NOAA's Fahnenstiel.

"These changes are unprecedented," he said. "In terms of algal abundance and water clarity, lakes Michigan and Huron are now similar to Lake Superior."

By filtering out the algae, the mussels are robbing other organisms of the food they need to survive. Of particular concern is the plight of Diporeia, a tiny shrimplike creature that was one of the pillars supporting the base of the Great Lakes food web.

Nearly every fish species in the Great Lakes relies on Diporeia at some point in its life cycle. But Diporiea populations have crashed in lakes Michigan and Huron, and the change is already impacting Great Lakes commercial fisheries and the sport-fishing enterprise.

"The big question now is how large the quagga mussel population will get," Evans said. "And when it gets as big as it can get, will it stay at that level or will it die back because it has decimated its own food supply? We don't really know what to expect at this point."


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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert  

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