Physical Geography and Sciences
Invasive Mussels in the Great Lakes: Impacts and Interactions


Invasive Mussels in the Great Lakes: Impacts and Interactions


Sonya Bayba



Sonya Bayba, Great Lakes Environmental Science
Faculty Mentors: Professor Lyubov Burlakova, Great Lakes Center, Professor Alexander Karatayev, Great Lakes Center and Professor Robert J. Warren, Biology; Susan Daniel, SUNY-Buffalo State Great Lakes Center; Elizabeth K. Hinchey, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Invasive dreissenid mussels have altered the flow of energy in numerous non-native freshwater systems by diverting nutrients from deep to shallow benthic food-webs; thus reducing resources available to deep offshore benthos. While the effect of the nearshore-dwelling Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) on benthos has been studied thoroughly, little is known about the deep-water impacts of Dreissena rostriformis bugensis (quagga mussel), a species that can live at depths > 200m. In the last two decades quagga mussels outcompeted zebra mussels and have been colonizing previously uninhabited deep lake regions. The goal of this study was to compare lake-wide benthic communities in the presence and absence of quagga mussels, and to investigate whether the positive impacts observed in the nearshore benthos can also be found in the offshore benthos due to the recent deep water quagga mussel colonization. Benthic survey data collected under the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative from Lake Michigan in 2015 and Lake Huron in 2017 were used in this study. Using non-parametric multivariate analysis, we found that the taxonomic structures of benthic communities without Driessena were significantly different than those with Dreissena. Using generalized linear mixed models, we also found that increasing Dreissena abundance/biomass had a positive effect on total benthos abundance/biomass, despite the increase in depth. Our results indicate that quagga mussels facilitate both littoral and profundal benthic communities.

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Invasive Mussels in the Great Lakes: Impacts and Interactions