Invasive mussels modify the cycling, storage and distribution of nutrients and carbon in a large lake

Tedy Ozersky, David O. Evans, Brian K. Ginn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study examined the effect of invasive dreissenid mussels on nutrient and carbon dynamics in a large lake (Lake Simcoe, Ontario). We measured rates of nutrient (phosphorus and nitrogen) and carbon excretion and biodeposition by zebra and quagga mussels and the P, N and C content of their soft tissues and shells at different depths throughout the open-water season. Measurements were combined with detailed information about dreissenid biomass and lakewide distribution to examine the impacts of dreissenids on whole-lake dynamics of P, N and C. Mussel tissue P, N and C content and rates of excretion and biodepositon varied among species, seasons and depths, apparently driven by metabolic and stoichiometric factors. Dreissenid mussels excreted, deposited and stored large quantities of P, N and C when compared to lake standing stocks and loadings, and represent an important driver of nutrient cycling in the lake. Living and discarded mussel shell material is shown to represent a potentially important, and hitherto largely overlooked, long-term sink for P, N and C. The concentration of dreissenid biomass in the well-mixed and illuminated littoral portion of L. Simcoe results in redirection of nutrients and carbon from offshore areas to the nearshore zone of the lake. Changes in nutrient and carbon distribution and cycling patterns caused by dreissenid establishment in L. Simcoe and other ecosystems can have implications for the distribution of primary and secondary production and should be considered in the context of water quality and nutrient input management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-843
Number of pages17
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Benthic-pelagic coupling
  • Dreissenid mussels
  • Invasive species
  • Lake Simcoe
  • Nutrient cycling

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