Dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis) biodeposit large quantities of filtered materials (i.e., feces and pseudofeces) directly on bottom substrates. These biodeposits have the potential to increase oxygen demand in sediments and overlying waters and thus contribute to hypolimnetic anoxia in Lake Erie. We hypothesized that higher potential oxygen demand of sediments would occur in areas near shore than in offshore hypolimnetic waters as a result of biodeposits carried by currents from littoral water where mussels, available foods, and biodeposits may be most abundant. To address this hypothesis, we measured potential oxygen demand (mg O2/L/120 h incubation) at six sites near shore and six sites offshore monthly June to September 2002 and August 2003. In addition, we compared, in post priori hypothesis, seven sites with and five sites without dreissenid mussels. Contrary to our hypotheses, potential oxygen demand was not significantly higher in bottles containing nearshore sediments than offshore sediments. Similarly, potential oxygen demand was not significantly higher at sites with dreissenid mussels than at sites without mussels. Data are consistent with pre-dreissenid studies which show oxygen demand and percent ash-free dry weights of sediments were higher offshore than near shore and ash-free dry weight of sediments decreased June to September. Therefore, the present study provides no evidence that dreissenid mussels have contributed directly-via biodeposition-to increased anoxia observed in Lake Erie in the mid to late 1990s.
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Potential oxygen demand of sediments from Lake Erie