, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 530–543

Effects of increasing temperatures on population dynamics of the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha: implications from an individual-based model

Global Change and Conservation Ecology

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-006-0591-0

Cite this article as:
Griebeler, E.M. & Seitz, A. Oecologia (2007) 151: 530. doi:10.1007/s00442-006-0591-0


Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha, Pallas, 1771) have had unprecedented success in colonizing European and North American waters under strongly differing temperature regimes. Thus, the mussel is an excellent model of a species which is able to cope with increasing water temperatures expected under global change. We study three principle scenarios for successful survival of the mussel under rising temperatures: (1) no adaptation to future thermal conditions is needed, existing performance is great enough; (2) a shift (adaptation) towards higher temperatures is required; or (3) a broadening of the range of tolerated temperatures (adaptation) is needed. We developed a stochastic individual-based model which describes the demographic growth of D. polymorpha to determine which of the alternative scenarios might enable future survival. It is a day-degree model which is determined by ambient water temperature. Daily temperatures are generated based on long-term data of the River Rhine. Predictions under temperature conditions as recently observed for this river that are made for the phenology of reproduction, the age distribution and the shell length distribution conform with field observations. Our simulations show that temporal patterns in the life cycle of the mussel will be altered under rising temperatures. In all scenarios spawning started earlier in the year and the total reproductive output of a population was dominated by the events later in the spawning period. For maximum temperatures between 20 and 26°C no thermal adaptation of the mussel is required. No extinctions and stable age distributions over generations were observed in scenario 2 for all maximum temperatures studied. In contrast, no population with a fixed range of tolerated temperatures survived in scenario 3 with high maximum temperatures (28, 30, 32°C). Age distributions showed an excess of 0+ individuals which resulted in an extinction of the population for several thermal ranges investigated.


Global change Thermal tolerance Life history Temperature-day-degree model River Rhine 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Zoological InstituteUniversity of MainzMainzGermany

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