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Unionid bivalves and attached epizoic zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) were collected at one index station in 1989, 1990, and 1991 and at 17 stations in 1991 in offshore waters of western Lake Erie of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Sampling at the index station revealed that the proportion of live unionids declined from 53% in September 1989 to 17% in May-lune 1990 and to 0% in September 1990: this 100% mortality coincided with heavy infestation by zebra mussels. Quantitative sampling with a Ponar grab at the 17 stations in 1991 revealed a widespread and dramatic reduction in unionid populations. In 1982, five unionid species occurred at 35% of the stations at a density of 4/mA?, whereas in 1991, no live unionid species were found. Qualitative sampling with an epibenthic sled at the 17 stations in 1991 yielded only 4 live specimens of 2 species (Amblema plicata plicata and Fusconaia flava) and 187 dead specimens of 10 species. These and other results indicate that unionid populations are being negatively affected by zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. Similar impacts on unionids are expected to occur where zebra mussels become abundant throughout North America.
Additional Publication Details
Dramatic decline of unionid bivalves in offshore waters of western Lake Erie after infestation by the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences