Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 167, Issue 1–4, pp 155–178 | Cite as

Can We Use Zebra and Quagga Mussels for Biomonitoring Contaminants in the Niagara River?

  • Lisa RichmanEmail author
  • Keith Somers


We compared contaminants in zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis) of two different size classes from sites within the Niagara River to determine if the two species and two size classes can be used to monitor contaminants. Composite samples (i.e., at least 50 individuals) were analysed for 7 trace metals, total PCBs, selected organochlorine pesticides, chlorinated benzenes, and dioxins and furans. ANOVAs and MANOVAs showed that metal tissue concentrations varied significantly among sites, species, and size classes (P < 0.05). At sites where metal concentrations differed between species, zebra mussels had higher concentrations than quagga mussels. Similarly, larger mussels (i.e., 16–25 mm) generally had higher tissue concentrations than smaller mussels (<15 mm length). However, differences in tissue concentrations between size classes were present only for Cd, Cu and Mn and were infrequent, making these results inconclusive. For organic contaminants ANCOVAs and MANCOVAs using lipid concentration as a covariate revealed significant differences in tissue concentrations between the three sites, whereas differences between size classes were modest (P = 0.035). The ANOVA using individual parameters did not show a significant difference in tissue concentrations between the two size classes. In general, mussel tissue concentrations among stations (up to 7 stations throughout the river), were similar for Pb, Zn, Hg and Ni using data separated by species and size class. Concentrations of Cu, Mn and Cd were variable throughout the upper and lower Niagara. Tissue concentrations of α-BHC, 1,2,3 and 1,2,4 trichlorobenzene were similar in quagga mussels collected from 8 stations from the Canadian and American side of the river, whereas concentrations of total PCBs, octachlorostyrene, 1,2,3,4-tetrachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene and hexachlorobenzene were higher in quagga mussels from the American side of the upper river.


biomonitoring Niagara River quagga mussel toxic trace substances zebra mussels 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J., Hayton, A., Rodriques, A. and Richman, L. A.: 1991, ‘Niagara River biomonitoring study, 1987’, Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Water Resources Branch, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  2. Bruner, K. A., Fisher, S. W. and Landrum, P. F.: 1994a, ‘The role of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, in contaminant cycling: I. The effect of body size and lipid content on the bioconcentration of PCBs and PAHs’, J. Great Lakes Res. 20, 725–734.Google Scholar
  3. Bruner, K. A., Fisher, S. W. and Landrum, P. F.: 1994b, ‘The role of the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, in contaminant cycling: II. Zebra mussel contaminant accumulation from algae and suspended particles, and transfer to the benthic invertebrate, Gammarus fasciatus’, J. Great Lakes Res. 20, 735–750.Google Scholar
  4. Chiu, S. T., Lam, F. S., Tze, W. L., Chau, C. W. and Ye, D. Y.: 2000, ‘Trace metals in mussels from mariculture zones, Hong Kong’, Chemosphere 41, 101–108.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Comba, M. E., Metcalfe-Smith, J. L. and Kaiser, K.: 1996, ‘Zebra mussels as biomonitors for organic contaminants in the lower Great Lakes’, Water Qual. Res. J. Canada 2, 411–430.Google Scholar
  6. Dermott, R. and Munawar, M.: 1993, ‘Invasion of Lake Erie offshore sediments by Dreissena, and its ecological implications’, Can. J. Fish Aquat. Sci. 50, 2298–2304.Google Scholar
  7. Elder, V. A., Proctor, B. L. and Hites, R. A.: 1981, ‘Organic compounds near dumpsites in Niagara Falls, New York’, Biomedical Mass Spectrometry, 8, 409–415.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldberg, E. D., Koide, M., Hodge, V., Flegal, A. R. and Martin, J.: 1978, ‘The mussel watch’, Environ. Conserv. 5, 101–125.Google Scholar
  9. Gossiaux, D. C., Landrum, P. F. and Fisher, S. W.: 1998, ‘The assimilation of contaminants from suspended sediment and algae by the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha’, Chemosphere, 36, 3181–3197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Interagency Task Force on Hazardous Waste: 1979, ‘Draft report on hazardous waste disposal in Erie and Niagara/counties’, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Jaffe, R. and Hites, A.: 1984, ‘Environmental impact of two, adjacent, hazardous waste disposal sites in the Niagara River watershed’, J. Great Lakes Res. 10, 440–448.Google Scholar
  12. Johns, C. and Timmerman, B. E.: 1998, ‘Total cadmium, copper, and zinc in two Dreissenid mussels, Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis, at the outflow of Lake Ontario’, J. Great Lakes Res. 24, 55–64.Google Scholar
  13. Kauss, P. B. and Angelow, R. V.: 1988, ‘Evaluation of biological monitoring studies with the freshwater mussel Elliptio complanata in the Niagara River and selected tributaries during 1980 and 1981’, File Report. Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Water Resources Branch, Ontario, Cananda.Google Scholar
  14. Kauss, P. and Hamdy, Y. S.: 1991, ‘Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in surficial sediments and caged mussels of the St. Marys River, 1985’, Hydrobiologia, 219, 37–62.Google Scholar
  15. Klerks, P. L. and Fraleigh, P. C.: 1997, ‘Uptake of nickel and zinc by zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha’, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 32, 191–197.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Klerks, P. L., Fraleigh, P. C. and Lawniczak, J. E.: 1997, ‘Effects of the exotic zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) on metal cycling in Lake Erie’, Can. J. Fish Aquat. Sci. 54, 1630–1638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kraak, M. H. S., Scholten, W. H. M., Peeters and de Kock, W. C.: 1991, ‘Biomonitoring of heavy metals in the Western European rivers Rhine and Meuse using the freshwater mussel Dreissena polymorpha’, Environ. Pollut. 74, 101–104.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lobel, P. B., Belkhhode, S. P., Jackson, S. E. and Longerich, H. P.: 1990, ‘Recent taxonomic discoveries concerning the mussel Mytilus: Implications for biomonitoring’, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 19, 508–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lobel, P. B., Longerich, H. P., Jackson, S. E. and Belkhhode, S. P.: 1991, ‘A major factor contributing to the high degree of unexplained variability of some elements concentrations in biological tissue: 27 elements in 5 organs of the mussel Mytilus as a model’, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 21, 118–125.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. MacIsaac, H. J., Haffner, G. D. and Ciborowski, J. J.: 1996, Ecological integration of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes: Trophic interactions and impacts on contaminant dynamics, Final Report. RAC Project No. 666G. ISBN 0-7778-4977-1.Google Scholar
  21. Marvin, C. H., McCarry, B. E. and Bryant, D. W.: 1994, ‘Determination and genotoxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons isolated from Dreissina polymorpha (zebra mussels) sampled from Hamilton Harbour’, J. Great Lakes Res. 20, 523–530.Google Scholar
  22. Marvin, C. H., Howell, E. T. and Reiner, E. J.: 2000, ‘Polychlorinated dioxins and furans in sediments at a site colonized by Dreissena in western Lake Ontario, Canada’, Environ Toxicol. Chem. 19, 344–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marvin, C. H., Howell, E. T., Kolic, T. M. and Reiner, E. J.: 2002, ‘Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans and dioxinlike polychlorinated biphenyls in sediments and mussels at three sites in the lower Great Lakes, North America’, Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 21, 1908–1921.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Mersch, J., Jeanjean, A., Spor, H. and Pihan, J.: 1992, ‘The freshwater mussel Dreissena polymorpha as a bioindicator for trace metals, organochlorines and radionuclides’, Limnologie aktuell. Vol. 4. Neumann/Jenner (eds.), The Zebra Mussel Dreissena polymorpha. Gustav Fischer Verlag-Stuttgart. Jena. New York.Google Scholar
  25. Metcalfe, J. L. and Charlton, M. N.: 1990, ‘Freshwater mussels as biomonitors for organic industrial contaminants and pesticides in the St. Lawrence River’, Sci. Tot. Environ. 97/98, 595–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mills, E. L., Roseman, E. F., Rutzke, M., Gutemann, W. H. and Lisk, D. J.: 1993, ‘Contaminant and nutrient element levels in soft tissues of zebra and quagga mussels from waters of southern Lake Ontario’, Chemosphere 27, 165–1473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Muncaster, B. W., Innes, D. J., Hebert, P. D. N. and Haffner, D.: 1989, ‘Patterns of organic contaminant accumulation by freshwater mussels in the St. Clair River, Ontario’, J. Great Lakes Res. 15, 645–653.Google Scholar
  28. Muncaster, B. W., Hebert, P. D. N. and Lazar, R.: 1990, ‘Biological and physical factors affecting the body burden of organic contaminants in freshwater mussels’, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 19, 25–34.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Niagara River Data Interpretation Group River Monitoring Committee: 1996, Joint evaluation of upstream/downstream niagara river monitoring data, 1994–1995.Google Scholar
  30. Niagara River Toxics Committee (NRTC): 1984, ‘Report of the Niagara River toxics committee’.Google Scholar
  31. Ontario ministry of environment(OMOE): 1995, ‘The Determination of mercury in biomaterials by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS)’, Laboratory Services Branch, Ontario, Cananda.Google Scholar
  32. Ontario Ministry of Environment (OMOE): 1996, ‘The determination of heavy metals in biomaterials by atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS)’, Laboratory Services Branch, Ontario, Cananda.Google Scholar
  33. Ontario Ministry of Environment (OMOE): 1997a, ‘The determination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), organochlorines (OC) and chlorobenzenes (CB) in fish and clams by gas/liquid chromatography-electron capture detection (GLC-ECD)’, Laboratory Services Branch, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  34. Ontario Ministry of Environment (OMOE): 1997b, ‘The determination of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans in fish tissue by GC-MS method PFAFD-E3134A’, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  35. Peven, C. S., Uhler, A. D. and Querzoli, F. J.: 1996, ‘Caged mussels and semipermeable membrane devices as indicators of organic contaminant uptake in dorchester and duxbury bays, Massachusetts’, Environ. Toxicol. and Chem. 15, 144–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Phillips, D. J. H. and Rainbow, P. S.: 1993, Biomonitoring of Trace Aquatic Contaminants, Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd., Essex, England.Google Scholar
  37. Rainbow, P. S., Wolowicz, M., Fialkowski, W., Smith, B. D. and Sokolowski, A.: 2000, ‘Biomonitoring of trace metals in the gulf of Gdansk, using mussels (Mytilus trossulus) and barnacles (Balanus improvisus)’, Wat. Res. 34, 1823–1829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Richman, L. A.: 1992, ‘The Niagara River mussel and leech biomonitoring study’, Great Lakes Section, Water Resources Branch, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  39. Richman, L. A.: 1999, ‘Niagara River mussel biomonitoring program 1997’, Surface Water Section, Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  40. Richman, L. A.: 2003, ‘Niagara River mussel biomonitoring program 2000’, Surface Water Section, Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch, Ontario, Canada.Google Scholar
  41. Roe, S. L. and MacIssac, H. J.: 1998, ‘Temporal variation of organochlorine contaminants in the zebra mussel Dressena polymorpha in lake erie’, Aquat. Toxicol. 41, 125–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Roseman, E. F., Mills, E. L., Rutzke, M., Gutenmann, W. H. and Lisk, D. J.: 1994, ‘Absorption of cadmium from water by North American zebra and quagga musels (Bivalvia: Dreissenidae)’, Chemosphere, 28, 737–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rutzke, M. A., Gutenmann, W. H., Lisk, D. J. and Mills, E. L.: 2000, ‘Toxic and nutrient element concentrations in soft tissues of zebra and quagga mussels from Lakes Erie and Ontario’, Chemosphere, 40, 1353–1356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Secor, C. L., Mills, E. L., Harshbarger, J., Kuntz, H. T., Gutenmann, W. H. and Lisk, D. J.: 1993, ‘Bioaccumulation of toxicants, element and nutrient composition, and soft tissue histology of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) from New York State waters’, Chemosphere, 26, 1559–1575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Strong, C. R. and Luoma, S. N.: 1981, ‘Variations in the correlation of body size with concentrations of Cu and Ag in the bivalve Macoma balthica’, Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 38, 1059–1064.Google Scholar
  46. USEPA/NYSDEC (United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation): 1998, Reduction of toxic loadings to the Niagara River from hazardous waste sites in the United States: A progress report.Google Scholar
  47. Wormington, A. and Leach, J. H.: 1992, ‘Concentrations of migrant ducks at point pelee national park, Ontario in response to invasion of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha’, Can. Field-Nat. 106, 376–380.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ontario Ministry of the EnvironmentEtobicokeCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Ministry of the EnvironmentDorsetCanada

Personalised recommendations