Dreissenid phosphorus excretion can sustain C. glomerata growth along a portion of Lake Ontario shoreline

Ted Ozersky, Sairah Y. Malkin, David R. Barton, Robert E. Hecky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


One of the effects of the dreissenid invasion into the Laurentian Great Lakes appears to be a resurgence in the abundance of the nuisance alga Cladophora glomerata which experienced a marked decline following phosphorus abatement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A subsidy of bioavailable phosphorus excreted by dreissenid mussels could be an important mechanism facilitating the growth of C. glomerata. To assess the importance of phosphorus released by mussels to C. glomerata growth in the nearshore, we conducted a survey of mussel distribution and abundance followed by in situ experiments designed to measure dreissenid phosphorus excretion rates. Average dreissenid mussel abundance in our study area was 3674 individuals/m2, with an average biomass of 52.2 g of shell free dry mass/m2. The mussels excreted bioavailable soluble reactive phosphorus at an average rate of 7.02 μg SRP/g shell free dry mass/hour, contributing about 11 t of soluble reactive phosphorus to our study area over the C. glomerata growing season. Dreissenids appear to be an important source of recycled bioavailable phosphorus to the nearshore, supplying more soluble reactive phosphorus to our study area than local watercourses and WWTPs, and more phosphorus than is required to sustain local C. glomerata growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are deeply indebted to David Depew, Adam Houben, Jennifer Hood and Ryan Scott for their help with the collection of field data and advice. We also thank Dr. William D. Taylor for his helpful comments regarding phosphorus cycling, as well as two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped to significantly improve this manuscript. This research was financially supported by the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA).


  • Dreissenid mussels
  • Nuisance algae
  • Phosphorus cycling


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