Manayunkia speciosa has been a taxonomic curiosity for 150 years with little interest until 1977 when it was identified as an intermediate host of a fish parasite (Ceratomyxa shasta) responsible for fish mortalities (e.g., chinook salmon). Manayunkia was first reported in the Great Lakes in 1929. Since its discovery, the taxon has been reported in 50% (20 of 40 studies) of benthos studies published between 1960 and 2007. When found, Manayunkia comprised < 1% of benthos in 70% of examined studies. In one extensive study, Manayunkia occurred in only 26% of 378 sampled events (1991–2009). The taxon was found at higher densities in one area of Lake Erie (mean = 3658/m2) and Georgian Bay (1790/m2) than in five other areas (mean = 60 to 553/m2) of the lakes. A 70-year history of Manayunkia in western Lake Erie indicates it was not found in 1930, was most abundant in 1961 (mean = 8039, maximum = 67,748/m2), and decreased in successive periods of 1982 (3529, 49,639/m2), 1993 (1876, 25,332/m2), and 2003 (79, 2583/m2). It occurred at 48% of stations in 1961, 58% in 1982, 52% in 1993, and 6% of stations in 2003. In all years, Manayunkia was distributed primarily near the mouth of the Detroit River. Causes for declines in distribution and abundance are unknown, but may be related to pollution-abatement programs that began in the 1970s, and invasion of dreissenid mussels in the late-1980s which contributed to de-eutrophication of western Lake Erie. At present, importance of the long-term decline of Manayunkia in Lake Erie is unknown.
Additional publication details
Distribution and abundance of freshwater polychaetes, Manayunkia speciosa (Polychaeta), in the Great Lakes with a 70-year case history for western Lake Erie