Comparative Growth and Survival of Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis, Exotic Molluscs Introduced to the Great Lakes

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Journal of Great Lakes Research





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Zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (D. bugensis) are among the most recent species to invade the Great Lakes. This study explored growth rates of two size classes (5 and 15 mm) of each species reciprocally transplanted into western and eastern Lake Erie, and in laboratory experiments in which environmental temperature and food concentration were varied. Both species and size classes experienced high survival rates in western (>95%) and eastern (> 85%) Lake Erie. Length-and mass-specific growth rates varied significantly between locations and mussel size classes, but not by species. Mussels incubated in the warm, western basin of Lake Erie exibited growth {length and mass), whereas those in the cooler eastern basin did not. In a laboratory experiment, temperature and size were the most important determinants of growth, though species differences were evident. Growth of both species was greater at 15°C than at 6°C. Specific growth rates of zebra mussels were greater than those of quagga mussels, except with respect to mass growth of smaller mussels at the higher temperature. Large mussels of both species experienced no mortality, whereas small quagga mussels experienced a significantly higher rate of mortality (50%) at the higher temperature than did small zebra mussels (10%). Results of the present study indicate that mussel growth of both species corresponds with initial size and environmental temperature, and that the distribution of quagga mussels in the Great Lakes is unlikely to be determined by high water temperature. © 1994, International Association for Great Lakes Research. All rights reserved.