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Zebra mussels hang on while quagga mussels take over
Date:6/11/2009

olonized shallow water, beaches, and water intake pipes in layers up to eight inches thick. Although quagga mussels came onto the scene a few years later, they have recently become the dominant species in calm waters of the Great Lakes.

These mussels have permanently changed the ecosystem. Before the mussels invaded, Lake Michigan water was mostly cloudy and millions of tiny microorganisms provided a food base for fish. Because the mussels filter the microorganisms, the waters today are surprisingly clear, allowing light to penetrate to greater depths, which in turn promotes prolific, nuisance algae blooms.

Quagga mussels may be the reason Diporea, a small shrimp-like species that serves as a food source for larger fish, is no longer abundant. The whitefish that feed on Diporea are growing to less than half of their expected size.

Both Peyer and Lee hope that understanding the biological differences between the two mussel species will help those who manage the Great Lakes.

"We need to be aware of the distinct differences between the two species," Peyer says. "If we understand the differences in their biology, we might help to make management more efficient and more effective in the end."


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Contact: Suzanne Peyer
smpeyer@wisc.edu
608-262-9225
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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