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Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) originated in western Russia but have now become widespread in Europe and North America. They are widely known for their conspicuous invasion of rocks and other hard substrates in North American and European watersheds. We have found beds of zebra mussels directly colonizing sand and mud sediments each year across hundreds of square kilometres of North America's Lake Erie. This transformation of sedimentary habitats into mussel beds represents an unforeseen change in the invasive capacity of this species.