Dreissenid mussels enhance nutrient efflux, periphyton quantity and production in the shallow littoral zone of a large lake

Ted Ozersky, David R. Barton, Robert E. Hecky, Stephanie J. Guildford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Dreissenid mussels are notorious invasive organisms whose establishment is associated with large, ecosystem-scale changes to patterns of productivity in aquatic systems. We investigated how localized impacts of dreissenids affect the potential of littoral substrates to support primary and secondary production using in situ incubations and comparisons of natural mussel-colonized and mussel-free substrates in the littoral zone of a large, shallow lake. We compared dreissenid-colonized and dreissenid-free substrates in terms of nutrient balance, surface area, periphyton loads as well as benthic primary production and respiration rates. Dreissenid-colonized substrates acted as sources of dissolved nutrients to the water column, with mussel mass-specific rates of dissolved phosphorus and ammonia excretion averaging 7.2 ± 5.6 (mean ± SD), and 92.6 ± 64.7 μg/g mussel shell free dry mass/h, respectively. Mussel-colonized substrates also had higher surface area, and supported approximately double the amount of periphyton and organic matter loads compared to mussel-free substrates, as well as having higher rates of primary production and community respiration. We suggest that the localized effects of dreissenids can play an important role in changing whole-ecosystem production patterns, with the extent of dreissenid impacts strongly dependent on lake size and morphometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2799-2810
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments The authors are grateful to Ryan Scott, Adam Houben, Tyrell Worral, Jennifer Hood, Erin Jones, Lee Pinnel, Lin Lee, Jessica Pang and Dylan Pallett for assistance in the field and in the lab. We thank Jake LaRose and the staff of the Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit for providing lab space and putting up with the noise of our vaccum pump. This manuscript was substantially improved thanks to insightful comments from the associate editor and two anonymous reviewers. Funding for this project was provided through an Ontario Ministry of the Environment Best in Science grant to SJG.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Benthic-pelagic coupling
  • Dreissenid mussels
  • Invasive bivalves
  • Nearshore shunt
  • Nutrient cycling


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