In 2007 an invasive dreissenid mussel species, Dreissena bugensis (quagga mussel), was discovered in Lake Mead reservoir (AZ–NV). Within 2 years, adult populations have spread throughout the lake and are not only colonizing hard substrates, but also establishing in soft sediments at depths ranging from 1 to >100 m. Dreissena bugensis size class and population density distribution differs between basins; cluster analysis revealed 5 adult cohorts within Boulder Basin and Overton Arm but low densities and low cohort survival in the Las Vegas Basin. Regression analysis suggests depth and temperature are not primary controllers of D. bugensis density in Lake Mead, indicating other factors such as sediment type, food availability or other resource competition may be important. Monthly veliger tows showed at least 2 major spawning events per year, with continuous presence of veligers in the water column. Adult mussels have been found in spawn or post-spawn condition in soft sediments in shallow to deep waters (>80 m) indicating the potential for reproduction at multiple depths. Comparisons to a 1986 benthic survey suggest there have been shifts in nondreissenid macroinvertebrate composition; however, it is unclear if this is due to D. bugensis presence. Current distribution of nondreissenid macroinvertebrates is heterogeneous in all 3 basins, and their biodiversity decreased when D. bugensis density was 2500/m2 or greater.
Additional publication details
Early invasion population structure of quagga mussel and associated benthic invertebrate community composition on soft sediment in a large reservoir