Waters in Peril

pp 3-17

Biological Invasions of Marine Ecosystems: Patterns, Effects, and Management

  • Gregory M. RuizAffiliated withSmithsonian Environmental Research Center
  • , Jeffrey A. CrooksAffiliated withSmithsonian Environmental Research Center

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In 1988, a small, zebra-striped mussel from the Caspian Sea was first found in North America, having successfully colonized the Great Lakes. This species had already proven itself to be a successful invader in Europe’s freshwaters, and it was not long before the zebra mussel exploded across the waterways in its newly conquered territory (Nalepa and Schloesser 1993). In 1989, the clogging of water intakes by tremendous populations of the mussel shut down water supply to a Michigan community. By 1994, the mussel was found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada, and was known to inflict serious ecological and economic damage in invaded ecosystems. It currently costs millions of dollars annually to manage municipal and industrial water intakes clogged by these organisms (Bright 1998). For many people, the invasion of the zebra mussel represented an awakening to the possibility of biological invasions by non-native species in aquatic ecosystems.