The USGS-Great Lakes Science Center has collected dreissenid mussels annually from Lake Michigan since zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) became a significant portion of the bottom-trawl catch in 1999. For this study, we investigated dreissenid distribution, body mass, and recruitment at different depths in Lake Michigan during 2001-2003. The highest densities of dreissenid biomass were observed from depths of 27 to 46 m. The biomass of quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) increased exponentially during 2001-2003, while that of zebra mussels did not change significantly. Body mass (standardized for a given shell length) of both species was lowest from depths of 27 to 37m, highest from 55 to 64 m, and declined linearly at deeper depths during 2001-2003. Recruitment in 2003, as characterized by the proportion of mussels < 11 mm in the catch, varied with depth and lake region. For quagga mussels, recruitment declined linearly with depth, and was highest in northern Lake Michigan. For zebra mussels, recruitment generally declined non-linearly with depth, although the pattern was different for north, mid, and southern Lake Michigan. Our analyses suggest that quagga mussels could overtake zebra mussels and become the most abundant mollusk in terms of biomass in Lake Michigan.
Additional publication details
Shell-free biomass and population dynamics of dreissenids in offshore Lake Michigan, 2001-2003