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Depth drives growth dynamics of dreissenid mussels in Lake Ontario

March 20, 2022

Understanding dreissenid mussel population dynamics and their impacts on lake ecosystems requires quantifying individual growth across a range of habitats. Most dreissenid mussel growth rates have been estimated in nutrient rich or nearshore environments, but mussels have continued to expand into deep, cold, low-nutrient habitats of the Great Lakes. We measured annual quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) growth at 15 m, 45 m, and 90 m in Lake Ontario using caged mussels near Oswego, New York, USA from June 2018 to May 2019. Quagga mussel growth (starting size 12 mm) was greatest at 15 m (mean shell length increase = 10.2 mm), and was lower at 45 m (5.9 mm) and 90 m (0.7 mm). Caged mussels were obtained from near the 90-m site and those reared at 15 and 45 m developed thicker shells than those that were caged at 90 m. We observed relatively high colonization by quagga and, to a lesser degree, zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) at 15 m, very few colonizers at 45 m, and none at 90 m. Higher growth potential, but low natural mussel densities observed at 15 m and 45 m suggest factors other than growth limit dreissenid abundance at these depths. The relatively slow dreissenid growth rates observed in offshore habitats are consistent with the gradual abundance increases documented in these zones across the Great Lakes and suggest new mussels that become established in these habitats may contribute to ecosystem effects for decades.

Publication Year 2022
Title Depth drives growth dynamics of dreissenid mussels in Lake Ontario
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2021.08.006
Authors Ashley Elgin, Paul Glyshaw, Brian C. Weidel
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70233923
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center