Downstream dispersal of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) under different flow conditions in a coupled lake-stream ecosystem

Abstract

Dispersal, establishment, and spread of aquatic invasive species such as the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) can be influenced by riverine velocities and volumetric flows in invaded lake-stream ecosystems. Zebra mussels, which have a planktonic larval form (veliger), disperse rapidly downstream from a source population. Concentrations, dispersal, and body conditions of zebra mussel veligers were studied under different volumetric flow, or discharge, conditions in a coupled lake-stream ecosystem in northern Texas, USA. Veliger densities in lotic environments were strongly related to population dynamics in upstream lentic source populations. A strong exponential decrease in veliger density was observed through a 28-km downstream study reach. Increased water releases from the source reservoir increased veliger flux and dispersal potential, concomitantly increasing veliger flux and decreasing transit time. However, passage through release gates in the dam and increased turbulence in the river during high-discharge events could negatively affect body condition of veligers, and veliger body condition generally decreased from the source population to the farthest downstream site and was lower for veligers during periods of high discharge. Thus increased discharge appears to reduce the proportion of viable veligers because of increased turbulence-induced mortality. Colonization of distant downstream reservoirs can occur if discharge and propagule pressure are sufficient or if interim habitats are suitable for establishment of in-stream populations.

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Acknowledgements

This paper describes results from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program for Texas that is cooperatively funded by Dallas Water Utilities and the USGS. The authors would like to thank Denis Qualls, Varghese Abraham, and Chang Lee (Dallas Water Utilities) and Glenn Clingenpeel (Trinity River Authority) for thoughtful discussions during study development. The authors would also like to thank anonymous reviewers who provided useful suggestions that improved this manuscript. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Churchill.

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Churchill, C.J., Quigley, D.P. Downstream dispersal of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) under different flow conditions in a coupled lake-stream ecosystem. Biol Invasions 20, 1113–1127 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1613-z

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Keywords

  • Veliger
  • River
  • Flux
  • Velocities
  • Discharge
  • Population dynamics