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Filtering impacts of larval and sessile zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) in western Lake Erie

Summary

We assessed the feeding biology of veliger larvae of the introduced zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha Pallas) in laboratory experiments using inert microspheres as food analogues. Mean clearance rate on 2.87-μm beads ranged between 247 and 420 μL veliger−1 day−1. Clearance rate was unrelated to bead concentration up to 100 beads μL−1, but was positively correlated with veliger shell length. Clearance rates of Dreissena veligers are within the range of those reported for marine bivalve veligers of similar size and for herbivorous Great Lakes microzooplankton, but are orders of magnitude lower than those of settled, conspecific adults. The impact of settled zebra mussel grazing activities on phytoplankton stocks may be up to 1162 times greater than that exerted by veliger populations in western Lake Erie. Based on 1990 size-frequency distributions and associated literature-derived clearance rates, reef-associated Dreissena populations in western Lake Erie (mean depth ∼7 m) possess a tremendous potential to filter the water column (up to 132 m3 m−2 day−1) and redirect energy from pelagic to benthic foodwebs. Preliminary analyses indicate that chlorophyll a concentration is strongly depleted (<1 μg L−1) above Dreissena beds in western Lake Erie.

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MacIsaac, H.J., Sprules, G., Johannson, O.E. et al. Filtering impacts of larval and sessile zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) in western Lake Erie. Oecologia 92, 30–39 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00317259

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00317259

Key words

  • Dreissena
  • Lake Erie
  • Ecological impact
  • Clearance rate
  • Biological invasion