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Also: Lake St. Clair
  Zebra Mussels
in the Great Lakes Region

What's New | Overview | Distribution Maps | Studies/Management Plans | Federal Resources | State/Provincial Resources
Current invaders:
Crustaceans: Rusty Crayfish | Spiny Water Flea
Fish: Goby (Round) | Goby (Tubenose) | Rudd | Ruffe | Sea Lamprey | White Perch
Mollusks: Quagga Mussel | Zebra Mussel
Plants: Curly-leaf Pondweed | Eurasian Watermilfoil | Phragmites (non-native) | Purple Loosestrife
Viruses: Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSv)
Potential invaders:
Fish: Asian Carp

[Invasive species home page]

What's New
Lake Huron whitefish feeling effects of invasive mussels
Great Lakes Echo (10/3)
Lake Huron whitefish are suffering from ecosystem changes caused by invasive quagga and zebra mussels.

Why haven't invasive zebra and quagga mussels overtaken Lake Superior?
MLive (9/15)
Lake Superior has successfully repelled the invasive dreissenid mussels thanks to a unique combination of temperature, chemistry, and food availability.

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.

Great Lakes: Invasive fish wreaking havoc on endemic mollusks
Headlines & Global News (4/7)
Originally introduced to rid the Great Lakes of destructive zebra mussels, invasive round goby fish have since disrupted the natural reproduction of mollusks, threatening the success of future generations.

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PhragmitesZebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are small, fingernail-sized mussels native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. Considered one of most damaging of the invasive species introduced to this country, zebra mussels were transported to the Great Lakes in ballast water from a transoceanic vessel. Since that time, they have spread rapidly to all of the Great Lakes and waterways in many states, as well as Ontario and Quebec, and to southeast and western portions of the United States.

One of the zebra mussel's most defining characteristics is its tendency to colonize hard substrates and surfaces (e.g., rocky bottoms and water intake structures) in high densities, with as many as tens of thousands living in a square yard.

Zebra mussels have had deleterious effects on local ecosystems. They reduce the amount of phytoplankton available for other organisms and increase water clarity, causing changes to the ecological structure of the lake community. In addition, zebra mussels accumulate contaminants within their tissues to levels greater than concentrations in the water column, increasing the exposure of wildlife to contaminants. Zebra mussel infestations also threaten native mussel populations by attaching to the native species and essentially smothering them.

Zebra mussels have caused a great deal of economic damage by clogging intake pipes of water treatment and power plants as well as boat engine cooling systems. Unfortunately, solutions to these problems are few and not highly effective, resulting in high costs for cleaning and control measures.

Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey

For complete overview, identification and management:
View full, print-ready factsheet

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Distribution Maps
Geographic information on the location of aquatic invasive species sightings in the United States is made available through the U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) program.

NAS distribution maps for the zebra mussel

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Studies, Assessments and Management Plans
Developing Environmentally Sound Methods and Strategies to Control Zebra Mussels at Public Facilities (1994)
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
This paper provides a description of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers efforts to develop methods and strategies to control zebra mussels at public facilities.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Expanded Zebra Mussel Action Plan (2007)
National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah
An Action Plan to prevent the spread of zebra mussels in Lake Powell and the upper Colorado River. The Zebra Mussel Prevention Program was further expanded in May 2008, at which time both Lake Powell and the upper Colorado River were believed to still be free of the mussels.

Ohio Sea Grant
Ohio Sea Grant research compared zebra mussels from sites in Eurasia and North America to establish genetic relationships among the different 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.

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U.S. and Canadian Federal Resources
Dynamic Map of Zebra Mussel Distribution
National Atlas of the United States

Indicator: Invasion of Zebra Mussels and Quagga Mussels
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Detroit River-Western Lake Erie Indicator Project

The Influence of Water Levels on Zebra Mussel Colonization of the St. Lawrence River
Environment Canada - Saint Lawrence Centre

The Unfolding Story of the Zebra Mussel in the St. Lawrence River
Environment Canada-Saint Lawrence Centre

Zebra and Quagga Mussel Information Resource Page
U.S. Geological Survey - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species

Zebra Mussel
Sea Grant Nonindigenous Species Site (SGNIS)

Zebra Mussel
National Sea Grant Network, Geographic Education Alliances
Exotic Aquatics on the Move

Zebra Mussel
Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, Species of Concern

Zebra Mussel
Stop Aquatic Hitchhickers!

Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet
U.S. Geological Survey-Great Lakes Science Center

Zebra Mussel Research Program
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Zebra Mussel Sightings Distribution
U.S. Geological Survey - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species

Zebra Mussel Species Profile
U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Invasive Species Information Center

State and Provincial Resources
Alien Profile: Zebra Mussel
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Environmental Education for Kids

Great Lakes Photography: Zebra Mussels
Michigan Sea Grant

How to Deal with Zebra Mussels
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife

Zebra Mussel
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Zebra Mussel
Minnesota Sea Grant

Zebra Mussel
New York Sea Grant

Zebra Mussel
Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters - Invading Species Awareness Program

Zebra Mussel
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Zebra Mussel & Quagga Mussel – Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Sea Grant

Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet
Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet
Michigan Sea Grant

Zebra Mussel Fact Sheet
Wisconsin Sea Grant

Zebra Mussel Watch
Wisconsin Sea Grant

Zebra Mussels Threaten Inland Waters
Minnesota Sea Grant

Zebra Mussels: Questions and Answers for Inland Lake Managers
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Zebra/Quagga Mussel
Aquatic Invasive Species of Pennsylvania

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Updated: December 15, 2017
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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