State has new weapon in fight against invasive mussels Detroit Free Press (8/15) Researchers say they believe they may have finally found a safe, effective means of combating zebra and quagga mussels. But completely eradicating the invaders from Michigan's waterways remains a pipe dream, experts say.
COMMENTARY: Quagga mussels impact Lake Michigan salmon The Daily Reporter (6/15) Where did the invasive quagga mussels originate? It probably came from the discharge of ballast water from ocean ships. And now, it's part of the Great Lakes ecosystem. It's a new problem that impacts every aspect of the lake food chain.
House measure supports shippers on water dumping The Associated Press (5/24) A plan gaining support in Congress and backed by the cargo shipping industry would establish a nationwide policy for dumping ballast water into U.S. waterways that environmental groups say would open the door to more invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels.
Overview Quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) are fingernail-sized freshwater mollusks native to the Ukraine that attach to objects and other organisms.
Quagga mussels were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1989 near Port Colborne of Lake Erie. They were found coexisting with dense populations of zebra mussels(Dreissena polyymorpha). Although these invasive mollusks are genetically and morphologically distinct, both have biological characteristics allowing their establishment and spread to watersheds across the United States.
While zebra mussels are generally limited to the colonization of hard substrates (e.g., rocky bottoms and water intake structures), quagga mussels are able to colonize soft substrate. This characteristic has allowed the quagga mussel to spread to areas of sand and sandy silt, such as the bottom of Lake Erie. Quagga mussels are also better able to flourish in low-food conditions than zebra mussels, allowing them to colonize less productive waters in much greater numbers.
Environmental impact: quaggas are extremely effective in filtering water for food, removing large amounts of phytoplankton and suspended particulate, decreasing the food supply for zooplankton and forage fishes, and thereby impacting the entire food web. Quagga mussel filtering has dramatically reduced primary production (photosynthetic production of chemical energy) in lakes Michigan and Huron. There have been significant impacts to the spring bloom of diatoms (silica based algae) by quagga infestations, disrupting the lower food web. Dreissenid mussels, including the quagga, have been implicated in the basin wide crash of populations of Diporeia, a bottom-dwelling invertebrate that once served as an important food source to many Great Lakes fishes. In addition to altering food webs, quagga mussels accumulate contaminants within their tissues, which can affect wildlife that feed on the species.
The quagga mussel also clogs water intake structures, such as pipes and screens, thereby reducing pumping capacity for power and water treatment plants and causing significant economic impacts to industries, companies, and communities. Recreation-based industries and activities also have been impacted by the quagga mussel as docks, breakwalls, buoys, boats, and beaches all have been heavily colonized by this species.
Quagga-Zebra Mussel Action Plan for Western U.S. Waters (2010) Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species This plan summarizes current dreissenid mussel management strategies of agencies across all levels of government, identifies priority actions, and makes recommendations on ways to coordinate activities.