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Impact of Dresissenid Mussel Population Changes on Lake Erie Nutrient Dynamics

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.

Start Date
End Date

Funding 6 projects for a total of $49,873.00
Scale of Phenomena
Lake Basin Connecting Channels
Lake Erie

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