A field study was conducted in the lower Great Lakes to assess changes in spatial distribution and population structure of dreissenid mussel populations. More specifically, the westward range expansion of quagga mussel into western Lake Erie and toward Lake Huron was investigated and the shell size, density, and biomass of zebra and quagga mussel with depth in southern Lake Ontario in 1992 and 1995 were compared. In Lake Erie, quagga mussel dominated the dreissenid community in the eastern basin and zebra mussel dominated in the western basin. In southern Lake Ontario, an east to west gradient was observed with the quagga mussel dominant at western sites and zebra mussel dominant at eastern locations. Mean shell size of quagga mussel was generally larger than that of zebra mussel except in western Lake Erie and one site in eastern Lake Erie. Although mean shell size and our index of numbers and biomass of both dreissenid species increased sharply in southern Lake Ontario between 1992 and 1995, the increase in density and biomass was much greater for quagga mussels over the 3-year period. In 1995, zebra mussels were most abundant at 15 to 25 m whereas the highest numbers and biomass of quagga mussel were at 35 to 45 m. The quagga mussel is now the most abundant dreissenid in areas of southern Lake Ontario where the zebra mussel was once the most abundant dreissenid; this trend parallels that observed for dreissenid populations in the Dneiper River basin in the Ukraine.
Additional publication details
Changes in the dreissenid community in the lower Great Lakes with emphasis on southern Lake Ontario