, Volume 165, Issue 4, pp 1063–1072 | Cite as

Long-term changes in a population of an invasive bivalve and its effects

  • David L. StrayerEmail author
  • Nuria Cid
  • Heather M. Malcom
Community ecology - Original Paper


Although the ecological and economic effects of non-native species probably often change through time, few studies have documented such effects. The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is an important invader that has had large ecological and economic effects on the ecosystems it has invaded in North America and western Europe. Our 20-year study of the Hudson River, New York, showed that the characteristics of a zebra mussel population and its effects on other benthic animals both changed substantially through time. Over the period of study, annual survivorship of adult zebra mussels fell >100-fold, which caused the aggregate filtration rate of the population to fall by 82%. Population size and body size of zebra mussels may also have fallen. In the early years of the invasion, densities of nearly all benthic animals in deepwater sites fell steeply (by 80–99%). After about 8 years of decline, these populations began to recover, and are approaching pre-invasion densities. The littoral zoobenthos showed neither the initial decline nor the subsequent recovery. Although the mechanisms behind these changes are not fully clear, our study shows that the effects of an invader may change considerably over time.


Invasive species Alien species Estuary Resilience Ecosystem recovery 



We thank Lane Smith and many Project Assistants for collecting and sorting benthic samples, and Joel Trexler and three reviewers for helpful comments. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (DEB 9508981, 0075265, 0454001) and the Hudson River Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Strayer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nuria Cid
    • 1
    • 2
  • Heather M. Malcom
    • 1
  1. 1.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA
  2. 2.Departament d’Ecologia, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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