Biological Invasions

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1529–1544 | Cite as

Invader invaded: population dynamics of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) in polymictic Oneida Lake, NY, USA (1992–2013)

  • Amy Lee HetheringtonEmail author
  • Lars G. Rudstam
  • Rebecca L. Schneider
  • Kristen T. Holeck
  • Christopher W. Hotaling
  • John E. Cooper
  • James R. Jackson
Original Paper


Invasive zebra (ZM) and quagga (QM) mussels continue to spread within and across inland waters worldwide. Oneida Lake, NY, USA, is a large (207 km2), mesotrophic, polymictic lake surveyed annually for dreissenids across substrates since 1992. We estimated abundance and distribution of ZMs and QMs across substrates, calculated lakewide density and biomass, analyzed seasonal and annual differences in veliger density, and explored dynamics of species replacement. ZMs and QMs were detected in 1991 and 2005, respectively. ZM density peaked at almost 30,000 ind/m2 in 1992, declined to between 2600 and 7600 ind/m2 until 2008, and further declined to 370–560 ind/m2 in 2010–2013 concurrent with increasing QM abundance. ZM biomass remained stable from 1992 to 2008 (140–530 g shell-on dry wt/m2) but declined to < 10 g from 2010 to 2013. QMs increased from 38% of the total biomass in 2008 to ≥ 90% from 2010 to 2013 which was accompanied by a decrease in ZM lengths and increase in QM lengths. In shallow (< 9 m) waters, both mussels were more abundant on rock than sand and silt substrate. Only QMs were abundant in deep silt substrate. The shift from ZM to QM dominance increased total biomass, but not density, due to larger QMs. Veliger densities were higher in May and August–November after arrival of QMs; however, there was no correlation between number of veligers and new recruits in fall or adult mussel biomass. The replacement of ZM occurred over about 4 years even though published mechanisms for QM dominance are not operating in summer in Oneida Lake.


Biomass Depth Invasive species Substrate Veligers 



We thank Edward Mills for the inspiration to study mussel dynamics in Oneida Lake and for leading the annual surveys of mussels in Oneida Lake from 1992 through 2009. Many technicians and graduate students at the Cornell Biological Field Station contributed to these data sets, including Spencer Hall, Fred Henson, Catherine Hoffman, Michael Hoffman, Rachel Keats, Jana Lantry, Eric Pueschel, Travis Spier, Jonathan Swan, and Carrie Wafer. We also wish to thank Lyubov Burlakova, Cayelan Carey, Nasseer Idrisi, Alexander Karatayev, and Christine Mayer for discussions on mussel dynamics and Ladd Johnson and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by Cornell University, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) grant to JRJ and LGR, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Hatch Project 0226747 to LGR, RLS and JRJ. Additional support to ALH was provided by Cayelan Carey at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant 1517823. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the NIFA, NSF, NYSDEC, or USDA.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Cornell Biological Field StationBridgeportUSA
  3. 3.Cooper Environmental ResearchConstantiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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