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Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas), a small mussel common throughout most of Europe, was discovered in June of 1988 in the southern part of Lake St. Clair. Length-frequency analyses of populations from the Great Lakes and review of historical benthic studies suggest that the mussel was introduced into Lake St. Clair in late 1986, probably as a result of the discharge of ballast water from an ocean-crossing vessel. Following the 1990 reproductive season, Dreissena populations ranged from the head of the St. Clair River, through Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Welland Canal, and the Niagara River to the western basin and southern shoreline of Lake Ontario. Isolated populations were found in the St. Lawrence River and in harbours in Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The rapid dispersal of this organism has resulted from its high fecundity, pelagic larval stage, bysso-pelagic drifting ability of juveniles, and human activities associated with commercial shipping, fishing, and boating (research and pleasure). Virtually any waterbody that can be reached by boaters and fisherman within a few days travel of the lower Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie, seems to be at risk of being invaded by this nuisance species.
Additional Publication Details
Distribution and dispersal of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in the Great Lakes region
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences