Space as a limiting resource in freshwater systems: competition between zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and freshwater sponges (Porifera)
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- Lauer, T.E. & Spacie, A. Hydrobiologia (2004) 517: 137. doi:10.1023/B:HYDR.0000027342.31716.9a
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Species interactions between two types of sessile benthic invertebrates, the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and freshwater sponges (Porifera), were evaluated in Michigan City IN Harbor in southern Lake Michigan during 1996. The study objective was to define whether competition plays a role in structuring benthic communities using experimental techniques commonly employed in marine systems. Sponges were uninhibited by zebra mussel presence and overgrew zebra mussel shells on hard vertical substrata. In contrast, zebra mussels did not overgrow sponge colonies, but did show an ability to re-capture hard substrata if relinquished by the sponge. The negative affect of sponges on zebra mussels through overgrowth and recruitment suggests interactions that could eventually displace zebra mussels from these benthic communities. However, seasonal reduction of sponge biomass from autumn through winter appears to allow the zebra mussel a periodic respite from overgrowth, preventing exclusion of zebra mussels from the community and allowing these two taxa to co-exist.