Fully understanding the importance of zebra and quagga mussels' effects on internal nutrient (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) cycling in large lakes like Lake Erie is essential when attempting to ameliorate their contribution to beneficial use impairments and to understand how invasive species perturb ecosystems in their invasive ranges. Project researchers first used field surveys to determine the current (2 4) dreissenid community structure on hard, preferred substrate in the western basin of Lake Eire. They then estimated the potential nutrient subsidy to the phytoplankton community by dreissenid nitrogen and phosphorus excretion by integrating the Dreissenid community structure at these sites with published size-specific nutrient excretion regressions. Researchers found that the total dreissenid community density had decreased dramatically (by >59%) from previous estimates, that zebra mussels now comprised only a small fraction of the total density (<3%) and that the quagga mussel-dominated community could supply up to 5 % of the nitrogen and 3% of the phosphorus needed daily by the phytoplankton community. The findings emphasize (1) that the dreissenid community abundance and the composition are not static, (2) that zebra mussels are no longer more important than quagga mussels to the dreissenid community, and (3) that dreissenid mussels potentially supply a portion of the nutrients that stimulate phytoplankton growth in the western basin of Lake Erie, making them important contributors to nutrient cycling in addition to their role as consumers of phytoplankton.
Impact of Dresissenid Mussel Population Changes on Lake Erie Nutrient Dynamics
Funding 6 projects for a total of $49,873.00
Scale of Phenomena
Lake Basin Connecting Channels