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Overview

Brief Summary

Just like other freshwater mussels, zebra mussels play an important role in keeping water clean. In European waters, an individual mussel can filter 76 milliliters of water per hour. This means that zebra mussels in the IJsselmeer are capable of filtering the entire lake around two times per month, clearing up the lake considerably. Zebra mussels can also cause an enormous amount of economic damage. They attach themselves easily to exhaust pipes of power stations and cooling water systems, plugging them up. In North America in particular, they form a large problem.
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The Eurasian Zebra Mussel Dreissena polymorpha is apparently native to brackish and fresh waters of the northern regions of the Ponto-Caspian (Black, Caspian, Azov, and Aral) Sea drainages and brackish and freshwater tectonic lakes south of the Ponto-Caspian Seas (May et al. 2006 and references therein). As early as the 18th century, this mussel began to expand its range in Europe via canals constructed to connect European river basins and the 19th century linkage of the Ponto-Caspian Seas with the Baltic and North Seas resulted in shipping traffic that accelerated the spread of D. polymorpha throughout European waters. (Bij de Vaate et al. 2002; May et al. 2006 and references therein). Dreissena polymorpha was first detected in North America in the mid-1980s and spread rapidly. (A few years later, a related and similar exotic mussel, the Quagga Mussel [D. rostriformis bugensis], was detected in North America and within a couple of decades largely replaced the D. polymorpha in the Great Lakes of eastern North America.) (Brown et al. 2010)

The invasion of North America by D. polymorpha has resulted in enormous economic impacts and ecological disturbances. Connelly et al. (2007) studied the economic impact of D. polymorpha on surface water-dependent drinking water treatment and electric power generation facilities (where previous research indicated the greatest impacts). They estimated the cumulative cost to these facilities in North America between 1989 and 2004 to be several hundred million dollars.

Population studies of mitochondrial DNA indicate that invasive D. polymorpha populations in both North America and Europe originated from the Ponto-Caspian Sea region. This region is the source of many aquatic species that have invaded Western Europe and the North American Great Lakes. (Ricciardi and MacIsaac 2000; Bij et al. 2002; May et al. 2006).

As is the case for some other invasive filter-feeding bivalve mollusks, populations of D. polymorpha are often enormous, dominating the non-photosynthesizing biomass and clearing large volumes of water as they consume phytoplankton and extract calcium from the water to build their shells. A conspicuous result is the dramatic reduction of the pelagic part of the food web and a corresponding flourishing of the littoral part. (Strayer 2009, 2010) However, in at least one local region (the freshwater portion of the Hudson River estuary in the notheastern United States), there is evidence that the impacts of D. polymorpha on the local ecosystem have been greatly moderated during the two decades subsequent to the arrival of these mussels. Although this change is clear, the reasons for it are not. Blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) currently appear to be important predators of D. polymorpha in the Hudson River and mortality from both Blue Crabs and other causes is much higher than it was early in the mussel invasion, but there is no evidence that populations of crabs or other predators in the Hudson have increased (Strayer 2011).

An important ecological impact of invading D. polymorpha in North America has been the decline and local extinction of native mussel species (e.g., Martel et al. 2001). Similar concerns exist for Europe, although preliminary work has suggested that the impact on the native mussel fauna in Europe may be less severe (Sousa et al. 2011).

Strayer (2009) provides an overview of what was learned about D. polymorpha in the two decades after its establishment in North America--and what important questions remain unanswered--with respect to both biology and public policy.

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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Widespread in Europe; originally native to the Black and Caspian seas; accidently introduced into into the Great Lakes in North America in the mid 1980s. It has since spread to the Mississippi, Ohio, and Susquehanna river systems. It is thought that it will eventually colonize most of the lower 48 United States and southern Canada (Strayer, 1991).

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Range Description

This species is native to the drainage basins of the Black, Caspian and Aral Seas (Birnbaum 2006). It is a highly invasive mussel, and has spread throughout Europe, to southern Scandinavia and Britain, east into Eurasia and south to Turkey via shipping canals. Rather than a natural migration, this spread has been human-mediated and therefore this species classes as an alien in these regions (S. Nehring pers. comm cited in Birnbaum 2006). This species has also been discovered in Lake St. Clair in the Laurentian Great Lakes region (in 1988), and has since spread throughout North American freshwaters (Therriault et al. 2004).

Two subspecies are included: D. p. andrusovi (Andrusov 1897), which is restricted to the northern Caspian Sea; and D. p. aralensis (Andrusov 1897), occurring in waterbodies adjacent to the Aral Sea (Kantor et al. 2009).
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Geographic Range

Zebra mussels were originally found in the rivers and lakes that connect to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, in eastern Europe and western Asia. Shipping and canal construction in the 1800's allowed them to spread west into most European rivers and lakes. In the late 20th century they were accidentally brought to North America, probably in ballast water of large ships. They now occur in the Great Lakes basin, most of the Mississippi River drainage, the Hudson River and many other eastern North American rivers.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Native )

  • Nalepa, T., D. Schloesser. 1993. Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: Lewis Publishers.
  • Neumann, D., H. Jenner. 1992. The Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha : ecology, biological monitoring and first applications in the water quality management. New York City, New York, USA: G. Fischer.
  • U.S. Geological Survey, 2008. "Zebra and Quagga Mussel Page" (On-line). Non-indigenous Aquatic Species. Accessed December 17, 2008 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/mollusks/zebramussel/.
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Geographic Range

Zebra mussels were originally found in the drainage basins of the Black and Caspian Seas, including the Danube, Dniester, Volga, and Ural Rivers. Shipping and canal construction in the 19th century allowed them to spread west into most European rivers and lakes. In the late 20th century they were accidentally brought to North America, probably in ballast water of large ships. They now occur in the Great Lakes basin, most of the Mississippi River drainage, the Hudson River and many other eastern North American rivers.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Native )

  • Nalepa, T., D. Schloesser. 1993. Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: Lewis Publishers.
  • Neumann, D., H. Jenner. 1992. The Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha : ecology, biological monitoring and first applications in the water quality management. New York City, New York, USA: G. Fischer.
  • U.S. Geological Survey, 2008. "Zebra and Quagga Mussel Page" (On-line). Non-indigenous Aquatic Species. Accessed December 17, 2008 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/mollusks/zebramussel/.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Adult zebra mussels have a pair of roughly triangular shells connected by an elastic hinge, the outside of the shells are usually brown with stripes that give the species its common name in English, but patterns and the darkness of color varies. They grow to about 5cm maximum length. The ventral side of the mussel is flattened, so much so that the mussel shell will stand on a flat surface. In life they attach to substrate with a glue they secrete that forms fibers called byssal threads.

Zebra mussels are ectothermic and heterothermic. Their body temperature as the temperature of their environment changes.

Zebra mussels have a free-swimming larval stage. This stage in molluscs is called a veliger. Veliger larvae are small enough that they can easily drift in the water, only about 100 micrometers long (0.1 mm) in diameter. Zebra mussel veligers have a tiny shell, and a curved sheet of skin called a velum, that is covered with tiny hairs that beat in the water. This helps them swim, and also draws food particles in for them to eat.

Range length: 2 (high) cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Physical Description

Adult zebra mussels have a pair of roughly triangular shells connected by an elastic hinge, the outside of the shells are usually brown with stripes that give the species its common name in English, but patterns and the darkness of color varies. They grow to about 5cm maximum length. The ventral side of the mussel is flattened, so much so that the mussel shell will stand on a flat surface. In life they attach to substrate with a glue they secrete that forms fibers called byssal threads.

Zebra mussels are ectothermic and heterothermic. Their body temperature as the temperature of their environment changes.

Zebra mussels have a free-swimming larval stage. This stage in molluscs is called a veliger. Veliger larvae are small enough that they can easily drift in the water, only about 100 micrometers long (0.1 mm) in diameter. Zebra mussel veligers have a tiny shell, and a curved sheet of skin called a velum, that is covered with tiny hairs that beat in the water. This helps them swim, and also draws food particles in for them to eat.

Range length: 2 (high) cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Czarnoleski et al. (2004) found that zebra mussel density not affected by substrate orientation, but was significantly higher on complex than on flat substrates indicating gregariousness of zebra mussels may be an evolved antipredation strategy rather than a result of hyperproduction of larvae competing for scarce substrates.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in a range of habitats, from freshwater to oligohaline waters in rivers, estuaries and coastal shallows of the Caspian Sea and other large brackish lakes (Therriault et al. 2004). In introduced regions, it has been found at depths of greater than 60 m (Therriault et al. 2004). It is most abundant on hard surfaces in calm waters upstream of dams (Birnbaum 2006).

Due to its bio-fouling properties (especially of ship hulls and industrial intake pipes, Birnbaum 2006) this species has had strong negative economic consequences in countries to where it has spread. It also has ecosystem-level impacts, including outcompeting native taxa, slowing down eutrophication, and bio-deposition, although these seem to manifest themselves towards the beginning of an invasion (Birnbaum 2006).

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Zebra mussels live in still or slow-moving freshwater, and attach themselves to any hard surface under water, natural or man-made, including rocks, submerged wood, boat hulls, buoys, docks, and water intake pipes. They need water will dissolved calcium to live, and they grow best if the water is not acidic at all.

Most zebra mussels live in water that is 2 to 12 meters deep. In shallower water waves and ice make it harder for them to survive. They can live in much deeper water -- some zebra mussels have been found as deep as 60 meters, and they can probably live deeper than that.

They stop growing at about 3°C, and increase their growth and feeding rates as they warm to 20-25°C. Above that they slow down and again, and start to die at 30°C.

Range depth: 1 to 60 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Other Habitat Features: estuarine

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Zebra mussels live in still or slow-moving freshwater, and attach themselves to any hard surface under water, natural or man-made, including rocks, submerged wood, boat hulls, buoys, docks, and water intake pipes. They need at least moderate concentrations of calcium to grow their shells (approximately 25 mg calcium2+/liter) but can survive for some time in lower concentrations. They do not thrive in pH lower than 6.8, and grow fastest in pH 7.4-8.4.

This species can survive exposure to temperatures as low as -10°C for a few minutes, and warmer sub-freezing temperatures for hours or days. Consequently most mussels live below ice levels, and the most dense populations are usually found between 2 and 12 meters in depth. They can live deeper however, and have been collected at least as deep as 60 m.

They stop growing at about 3°C, and increase their growth and feeding rates as they warm to 20-25°C. Above that they slow down and again, and start to die at 30°C.

Range depth: 1 to 60 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Other Habitat Features: estuarine

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Depth range based on 22 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 17

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 17
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Zebra mussels filter their food from the water. They eat mainly single-cell organisms, such as bacteria, blue-green algae, small green algae, and protozoans. They also consume very fine detritus particles.

Plant Foods: phytoplankton

Other Foods: detritus ; microbes

Foraging Behavior: filter-feeding

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Food Habits

Zebra mussels filter their food from the water. They eat mainly single-cell organisms, such as bacteria, blue-green algae, small green algae, and protozoans. They also consume very fine detritus particles.

Plant Foods: phytoplankton

Other Foods: detritus ; microbes

Foraging Behavior: filter-feeding

Primary Diet: planktivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Zebra mussels can be very important in freshwater ecosystems. If they are enough of them, they can filter an enormous amount of plankton out of the water. This changes the flow of energy in the foodweb -- the energy in the phytoplankton goes to the bottom, to the mussels and the animals that eat them, instead of swimming plankton predators like zooplankton and fish.

Also, if zebra mussels clear the water, sunlight can penetrate deeper into the water, allowing more aquatic plants to grow. These plants provide food and hiding places for fish and invertebrates.

Zebra mussels attach to the outside of Unionidae. They slow the larger mussel down, interfere with its growth, sometime jam the shell open, and prevent the large mussel from feeding and pumping water in and out of its shell. Where zebra mussels have moved into the Great Lakes basin, native mussels have been wiped out.

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Predation

Zebra mussel larvae have no special defense against predators, but they are so small that only small predators and filter-feeders eat them. The larvae are part of the zooplankton in the water, and pretty much any predator that eats zooplankton eats them. This includes many small fish (including the young of large fish), other zooplankton such as Copepoda, freshwater Cnidaria like Hydra, even Spongillidae.

Most fish can't eat zebra mussels because they can't crush the shells. A few fish species have specialized teeth and jaws that are strong enough to break the shells of mollusks, and some of them do eat zebra mussels. In Europe the Rutilus rutilus, is a major predator of zebra mussels, along with Abramis brama, and Abramis bjoerkna. Neogobius melanostomus and Cyprinus carpio, native to Eurasia, have been introduced to North America, and eat zebra mussels where they occur. The Mylopharyngodon piceus is an east Asian species that has been introduced to Europe, and eats zebra mussels there. The Lepomis gibbosus has been introduced to Europe from North America, and eats zebra mussels on both continents. Besides pumpkinseeds, the several other North American fish eat zebra mussels, including Aplodinotus grunniens, Moxostoma, Carpiodes carpio and Ictiobus bubalus.

Some species of waterbirds are important predators of zebra mussels too. These are mostly diving ducks. Species known to feed significantly on zebra mussels include Aythya marila, Aythya affinis, Aythya ferina, Aythya fuligula, Bucephala albeola, Bucephala clangula, Fulica atra  Clangula hyemalis, Larus argentatus, and Melanitta fusca.

Blue crabs (Callinectes_sapidus) consumed many zebra mussels during a study in the Hudson River. Crayfish, including the northern clearwater crayfish, Orconectes_propinquus, may prey on small zebra mussels.

  • Molloy, D., A. Karatayev, L. Burlakova, D. Kurandina, F. Laruelle. 1997. Natural enemies of zebra mussels: predators, parasites, and ecological competitors. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 5/1: 27-97. Accessed December 17, 2008 at http://www.sgnis.org/publicat/rfs27.htm.
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Ecosystem Roles

Zebra mussels can be very important in freshwater ecosystems. If they are enough of them, they can filter an enormous amount of plankton out of the water. This changes the flow of energy in the foodweb -- the energy in the phytoplankton goes to the bottom, to the mussels and the animals that eat them, instead of swimming plankton predators like zooplankton and fish.

Also, if zebra mussels clear the water, sunlight can penetrate deeper into the water, allowing more aquatic plants to grow. These plants provide food and hiding places for fish and invertebrates.

Zebra mussels attach to the outside of North American freshwater mussels. They slow the larger mussel down, interfere with its growth, sometime jam the shell open, and prevent the large mussel from feeding and pumping water in and out of its shell. Where zebra mussels have moved into the Great Lakes basin, native mussels have been wiped out.

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Predation

Zebra mussel larvae have no special defense against predators, but they are so small that only small predators and filter-feeders eat them. The larvae are part of the zooplankton in the water, and pretty much any predator that eats zooplankton eats them. This includes many small fish (including the young of large fish), other zooplankton such as copepods, freshwater Cnidaria like hydras, even freshwater sponges.

Most fish can't eat zebra mussels because they can't crush the shells. A few fish species have specialized teeth and jaws that are strong enough to break the shells of mollusks, and some of them do eat zebra mussels. In Europe the roach, is a major predator of zebra mussels, along with bream, and silver bream. Round gobies and common carp, native to Eurasia, have been introduced to North America, and eat zebra mussels where they occur. The black carp is an east Asian species that has been introduced to Europe, and eats zebra mussels there. The pumpkinseed sunfish has been introduced to Europe from North America, and eats zebra mussels on both continents. Besides pumpkinseeds, the several other North American fish eat zebra mussels, including freshwater drums, redhorse suckers, river carpsuckers and smallmouth buffalos.

Some species of waterbirds are important predators of zebra mussels too. These are mostly diving ducks. Species known to feed significantly on zebra mussels include greater scaups, lesser scaups, pochards, tufted ducks, buffleheads, goldeneyes, common coots  oldsquaws, herring gulls, and white-winged scoters.

Blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) consumed many zebra mussels during a study in the Hudson River. Crayfish, including the northern clearwater crayfish, Orconectes propinquus, may prey on small zebra mussels.

  • Molloy, D., A. Karatayev, L. Burlakova, D. Kurandina, F. Laruelle. 1997. Natural enemies of zebra mussels: predators, parasites, and ecological competitors. Reviews in Fisheries Science, 5/1: 27-97. Accessed December 17, 2008 at http://www.sgnis.org/publicat/rfs27.htm.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

Comments: This species has been present in the Fox River basin in Illinois and Wisconsin since at least the mid-1990s and an abundant population inhabits Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and in Wind Lake Drainage Canal near Waterford, Wisconsin, but only a single live individual was encountered in a comprehensive survey of the Fox River basin recently near McHenry, Illinois (Schanzle et al., 2004). In Alabama, it is found only in the Tennessee River and has not been reported from teh Mobile Basin (Williams et al., 2008).

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Global Abundance

>1,000,000 individuals

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Zebra mussels have no heads, and no eyes. However, they are sensitive to chemicals in the water, and can detect gravity, touch and temperature. If disturbed they will close their shells.

Communication Channels: chemical

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Zebra mussels have no heads, and no eyes. However, they are sensitive to chemicals in the water, and can detect gravity, touch and temperature. If disturbed they will close their shells.

Communication Channels: chemical

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Cycle

Development

There are three stages in the life of a zebra mussel. The speed of development depends on temperature -- warmer mussels grow faster. About 3-5 days after fertilization, a tiny larva that emerges from the egg. This stage is called the veliger. It can swim upward (but not strong enough to swim against a current), and has only a tiny start of a shell. It grows, and when it develops several internal organs (including a muscular foot), and peak (called an umbo) at the hinge of its shell, it is in the next stage, the postveliger. The postveliger continues to grow, and after about a month, it settles onto a hard surface. It uses its foot to move slowly, and when it finds a suitable spot, glue itself to the surface, where it will stay for the rest of its life. Then it metamorphoses into the adult stage.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Development

There are three stages in the life of a zebra mussel. The speed of development depends on temperature -- warmer mussels grow faster. About 3-5 days after fertilization, a tiny larva that emerges from the egg. This stage is called the veliger. It can swim upward (but not strong enough to swim against a current), and has only a tiny start of a shell. It grows, and when it develops several internal organs (including a muscular foot), and peak (called an umbo) at the hinge of its shell, it is in the next stage, the postveliger. The postveliger continues to grow, and after about a month, it settles onto a hard surface. It uses its foot to move slowly, and when it finds a suitable spot, glue itself to the surface, where it will stay for the rest of its life. Then it metamorphoses into the adult stage.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Zebra mussels life span varies. Most live 3-9 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
9 (high) hours.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Zebra mussels life span varies. Most live 3-9 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
9 (high) hours.

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Reproduction

Egg production and fertization take place when water temperatures are above 12 degrees C.

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Adult zebra mussels start to reproduce in the spring, when water temperatures rise to about 12°C. In habitats where they water stays warm year round, they may reproduce continuously. Females release eggs into the water, and males release sperm, and fertilization occurs after they are released. Females grow and release eggs in batches of up to 40,000, up to four times during the breeding season, which lasts as long as the water stays warm enough. Each can release as many as 1 million eggs each year.

Zebra mussels are mature and able to reproduce when they are 8-9 mm long, usually after about one year of growth.

Breeding season: Zebra mussels spawn when the water they live in is warm enough, usually starting in spring or summer.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning

The only parental investment is in the production of eggs and sperm.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

  • Nalepa, T., D. Schloesser. 1993. Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: Lewis Publishers.
  • U.S. Geological Survey, 2008. "Zebra and Quagga Mussel Page" (On-line). Non-indigenous Aquatic Species. Accessed December 17, 2008 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/mollusks/zebramussel/.
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Adult zebra mussels start to reproduce in the spring, when water temperatures rise to about 12°C. In habitats where they water stays warm year round, they may reproduce continuously. Females release eggs into the water, and males release sperm, and fertilization occurs after they are released. Females grow and release eggs in batches of up to 40,000, up to four times during the breeding season, which lasts as long as the water stays warm enough. Each can release as many as 1 million eggs each year.

Zebra mussels are mature and able to reproduce when they are 8-9 mm long, usually after about one year of growth.

Breeding season: Zebra mussels spawn when the water they live in is warm enough, usually starting in spring or summer.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning

The only parental investment is in the production of eggs and sperm.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

  • Nalepa, T., D. Schloesser. 1993. Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: Lewis Publishers.
  • U.S. Geological Survey, 2008. "Zebra and Quagga Mussel Page" (On-line). Non-indigenous Aquatic Species. Accessed December 17, 2008 at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/mollusks/zebramussel/.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Dreissena polymorpha

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 71 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TCTCTGTGGGCTGGCCTTGTGGGCACGGGTTTT---AGTGTTCTTATTCGTTTAGAGCTAAGGGCACCTGGAAGCGTCCTTGGTGAT---TTTCAATTATATAATTTAATTGTCACCACTCATGGGCTTGTTATAATTTTTTTTCTAGTAATACCTATAATAATGGGGGGATTCGGAAATTGATTGGTACCAATAATA---CTGAGTCTTCCTGATATAGGTTTCCCTCGTCTTAATAATGTTAGTTTTTGGGTTTTACCTGTCTCTATAGGACTTCTATTTTGTTCAGCTTTTAGGGAAGGAGGATTCGGGGGTGGTTGAACCTTATATCCTCCTTTATCTAGAGTTATAGGACATTCAGGCCCTGCGATAGATTTT---TTGATTTTATCTCTTCATATTGGGGGAGCTTCTTCGATTATGGCTTCTATTAATTTTTATAGGACATGAGGTAATATACGTGCTGGATGTCATCAATTTTACCGGGTCCCTTTGTTCTGCACATCTATTGGTGTGACCAGATTCCTTTTAATCTTAGCAATGCCTGTATTAGCTGGG---GCTTTAACAATATTATTAACTGATCGAAATTTTAACACAAGATTTTTTGATCCA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ACA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dreissena polymorpha

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 72
Specimens with Barcodes: 89
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: A widespread and extremely invasive species.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
Van Damme, D.

Reviewer/s
Böhm, M. & Collen, B.

Contributor/s

Justification
Dreissena polymorpha has been assessed as Least Concern. This species is widespread and abundant throughout both its native and introduced ranges. D. polymorpha is highly invasive and is therefore unlikely to be impacted by any major threats.
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Zebra mussels are still common and abundant in their original range, and have spread far beyond it. They are not considered to be in any need of special conservation efforts.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Zebra mussels are still common and abundant in their original range, and have spread far beyond it. They are not considered to be in any need of special conservation efforts.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

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Global Short Term Trend: Increase of 10 to >25%

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of >25%

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Population

Population
This species can attain huge densities in parts of its range, sometimes up to 40,000 individuals per m2 (Birnbaum 2006).

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is widespread and highly invasive, so is unlikely to be impacted by any major threats.
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Management

Global Protection: Unknown whether any occurrences are appropriately protected and managed

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no species-specific conservation measures in place for this species.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The introduction of zebra mussels into many areas of the world has created major economic problems.

The mussels grow on all kinds of man-made structures in the water, include water intake pipes for drinking water plants and power plants. So many grow there that they clog the pipes. Businesses and governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to clear out the mussels and keep the pipes open. Mussels also grow on navigational buoys, sometimes sinking them, and on locks and dams, interfering with their operation. They grow on hulls of boats and ships, slowing them down and clogging engine intakes.

The ecological impacts of zebra mussels are still happening, and not all the effects are known. They eat phytoplankton faster than zooplankton in the water does. This means zooplankton and the fish that live in the open water (like walleye, salmon, and lake trout) have less to eat. Also, zebra mussels don't like to eat certain kinds of toxic blue-green algae. When zebra mussels have spread to inland lakes in North America, the amount of this toxic type of algae increases.

See the references for more information on the many ecological effects of zebra mussels, especially in North America.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Zebra Mussels were added to freshwater lakes in the Netherlands to help make the water more transparent (they eat the phytoplankton that makes the waters cloudy). Other cities in other countries have done the same.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The introduction of zebra mussels into many areas of the world has created major economic problems.

The mussels grow on all kinds of man-made structures in the water, include water intake pipes for drinking water plants and power plants. So many grow there that they clog the pipes. Businesses and governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to clear out the mussels and keep the pipes open. Mussels also grow on navigational buoys, sometimes sinking them, and on locks and dams, interfering with their operation. They grow on hulls of boats and ships, slowing them down and clogging engine intakes.

The ecological impacts of zebra mussels are still happening, and not all the effects are known. They eat phytoplankton faster than zooplankton in the water does. This means zooplankton and the fish that live in the open water (like walleye, salmon, and lake trout) have less to eat. Also, zebra mussels don't like to eat certain kinds of toxic blue-green algae. When zebra mussels have spread to inland lakes in North America, the amount of this toxic type of algae increases.

See the references for more information on the many ecological effects of zebra mussels, especially in North America.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Zebra Mussels were added to freshwater lakes in the Netherlands to help make the water more transparent (they eat the phytoplankton that makes the waters cloudy). Other cities in other countries have done the same.

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Wikipedia

Zebra mussel

The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southern Russia,[2] being first described in 1769 by the German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. These mussels are still found nearby, as Pontic (Black Sea) and Caspian species.[3] However, Dreiseena polymorpha has been accidentally introduced to numerous other areas, and has become an invasive species in many different countries worldwide.

Zebra mussels get their name from a striped pattern which is commonly seen on their shells, though it is not universally present. They are usually about the size of a fingernail, but can grow to a maximum length of nearly 2 in (5.1 cm).[4][5] Shells are D-shaped, and attached to the substrate with strong byssal threads, which come out of their umbo on the dorsal (hinged) side.

Ecology[edit]

Three color varieties of the shell of the zebra mussel
Close-up of a typical shell of a zebra mussel

Zebra mussels and the closely related and ecologically similar quagga mussels are filter-feeding organisms. They remove particles from the water column. The zebra mussels process up to one gallon of water per day, per mussel.[6] Some particles are consumed as food, and feces are deposited on the lake floor. Non-food particles are combined with mucus and other matter and deposited on lake floors as pseudofeces. Since the zebra mussel has become established in Lake Erie, water clarity has increased from 6 inches to up to three feet in some areas.[6] This improved water clarity allows sunlight to penetrate deeper, enabling growth of submerged macrophytes. These plants, when decaying, wash up on shorelines, fouling beaches and causing water quality problems.[7]

Lake floor food supplies are enriched by zebra mussels as they filter pollution out of the water. This biomass becomes available to bottom-feeding species and to the fish that feed on them.[8] The catch of yellow perch increased 5 fold after the introduction of zebra mussels into Lake St. Clair.[9]

Zebra mussels attach to most substrates including sand, silt, and harder substrates. Other mussel species frequently represent the most stable objects in silty substrates, and zebra mussels attach to, and often kill these mussels. They build colonies on native American Unionid clams, reducing their ability to move, feed and breed, eventually leading to their death. This has led to the near extinction of the Unionid clams in Lake St. Clair and the western basin of Lake Erie.[6] This pattern is being repeated in Ireland, where zebra mussels have eliminated the two freshwater mussels from several waterways, including some lakes along the River Shannon in 1997.

In 2012 the National University of Ireland, Galway, said "The discovery of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) in Lough Derg and the lower Shannon region in 1997 (McCarthy et al 1997, a & b) has led to considerable concern about the potential ecological and economic damage that this highly invasive aquatic nuisance species can cause."[10]

Life cycle[edit]

The life span of a zebra mussel is four to five years.[11] A female zebra mussel begins to reproduce within 6–7 weeks of settling. (see Borcherding, J. (1991): The annual reproductive cycle of the freshwater mussel Dreissena polymorpha Pallas in lakes. Oecologia 87: 208-218).

An adult female zebra mussel can produce 30,000 to 40,000 eggs in each reproductive cycle, and over 1 million each year.[12] Free-swimming microscopic larvae, called veligers, will drift in the water for several weeks and then settle onto any hard surface they can find. Zebra mussels also can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and adults can even survive out of water for about 7 days.

Drawing of zebra mussel, showing the byssus

Predators[edit]

Research on natural enemies, both in Europe and North America, has focused on predators, particularly birds (36 species) and fish (15 and 38 species eating veligers and attached mussels) .

The vast majority of the organisms that are natural enemies in Europe are not present in North America. Ecologically similar species do exist, but it is unlikely that these species are able to eliminate those mussels already established and will have a limited role in their control. [13]

Crayfish could have a significant impact on the densities of 1 to 5 mm long zebra mussels. An adult crayfish consumes an average of nearly 105 zebra mussels every day, or about 6000 mussels in a season. Predation rates are significantly reduced at cooler water temperatures. It seems that fish do not limit the densities of zebra mussels in European lakes. Smallmouth bass are a predator in the zebra mussels' adopted North American Great Lakes habitat.[14]

Other control[edit]

On June 4, 2014, Canadian conservation authorities announced that a test using liquid fertilizer to kill invasive zebra mussels was successful. This test was conducted in a lakefront harbour in the western province of Manitoba.[15][16]

As an invasive species[edit]

Sign advising boaters on how to prevent zebra mussel spread on Titicus Reservoir in North Salem, New York

The native distribution of the species is in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in Eurasia. Zebra mussels have become an invasive species in North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. They disrupt the ecosystems by monotypic colonization, and damage harbors and waterways, ships and boats, and water treatment and power plants. Water treatment plants are most affected because the water intakes bring the microscopic free-swimming larvae directly into the facilities. The zebra mussels also cling on to pipes under the water and clog them.

Grossinger reported it in Hungary in 1794. Kerney and Morton described the rapid colonization of Britain by the zebra mussel, first in Cambridgeshire in the 1820s, London in 1824, and in the Union Canal near Edinburgh in 1834.[14] In 1827 zebra mussels were seen in the Netherlands at Rotterdam. Canals that artificially link many European waterways facilitated their early dispersal. It is non-indigenous in the Czech Republic in Elbe river in Bohemia since 1893;[17] in southern Moravia it is probably native.[18] Around 1920 the mussels reached Lake Mälaren in Sweden.

The first Italian appearance of the organism was in northern Italy in Lake Garda in 1973;[19] in central Italy they appeared in Tuscany in 2003.[20]

Zebra mussels are also present in British waterways. Many water companies are reporting having problems with their water treatment plants with the mussels attaching themselves to pipeworks. Anglian Water has estimated that it costs £500,000 per year to remove the mussels from their treatment plants.[21] It has been argued that zebra mussels also have had an effect on fish populations, with dwindling fish populations in areas such as Salford Quays.[22]

North American invasion[edit]

They were first detected in Canada in the Great Lakes in 1988, in Lake St. Clair, located north of Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario.[23] It is believed they were inadvertently introduced into the lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going ships traversing the St. Lawrence Seaway. Another possible often neglected mode of introduction is on anchors and chains, although this has not been proven. Since adult zebra mussels can survive out of water for several days or weeks if the temperature is low and humidity is high, chain lockers provide temporary refuge for clusters of adult mussels that could easily be released when transoceanic ships drop anchor in freshwater ports. They have become an invasive species in North America, and as such they are the target of Federal policy to control them, for instance in the National Invasive Species Act (1996).

Using models based on the genetic algorithm for rule-set production, researchers have predicted that the southeastern United States is moderately to highly likely to be inhabited by zebra mussels. However, the Midwest is otherwise unlikely to experience a zebra mussel invasion of water bodies.[24]

By location[edit]

Zebra mussels line the shoreline of Lake Michigan

From their first appearance in American waters in 1988, zebra mussels have spread to a large number of waterways, including Lake Simcoe in the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi, Hudson, St. Lawrence, Ohio, Cumberland, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, Colorado, and Arkansas Rivers. Today the invasion continues. For instance, in 2009 the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation confirmed that zebra mussels had been found in Laurel Lake in the Berkshires.[25] That same year the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that live zebra mussels have been found in Pelican Lake, Minnesota. This was the first confirmed sighting in the Red River Basin, which extends across the international border into the province of Manitoba.[26] In July, 2010, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department confirmed the presence of zebra mussel veliger in the Red River between Wahpeton, N.D. and Breckenridge, Minnesota.[27] As recently as 2010 California similarly reported invasions.[28] In 2011 an invasion of the mussels has resulted in reduced water supplies during a drought year, worsening water restrictions across the Dallas area.[29]

A common inference made by scientists predicts that the zebra mussel will continue spreading passively, by ship and by pleasure craft, to more rivers in North America. Trailered boat traffic is the most likely vector for invasion into Western North America. This spread is preventable if boaters thoroughly clean and dry their boats and associated equipment before transporting them to new bodies of water. Since no North American predator or combination of predators has been shown to significantly reduce zebra mussel numbers,[citation needed] such spread would most likely result in permanent establishment of zebra mussels in many North American waterways.

A major decrease in the concentration of dissolved oxygen was observed in the Seneca River in central New York in the summer of 1993. This decrease was due to extremely high concentrations of zebra mussels in the watershed. Additionally, the Seneca River had significantly less chlorophyll in the water, which is used as a measure of phytoplankton biomass, due to the presence of zebra mussels [30]

Cost[edit]

The cost of fighting the pests at power plants and other water-consuming facilities is substantial, but the exact magnitude of the damage is a matter of some controversy. According to the Center for Invasive Species Research at the University of California, Riverside,[23] the cost of management of zebra mussel in the Great Lakes alone exceeds $500 million a year. A more conservative study estimated total economic costs of $267 million for electric generation and water treatment facilities in the entire United States from 1989 through 2004.[31]

Effects of zebra mussels[edit]

Zebra mussel infestation on the walls of Arthur V. Ormond Lock on the Arkansas River
Zebra mussel-encrusted Vector Averaging Current Meter from Lake Michigan

Zebra mussels are filter feeders. When in the water, they open their shells to admit detritus. As their shells are very sharp, they are known for cutting people's feet, resulting in the need to wear water shoes wherever they are prevalent.

Since their colonization of the Great Lakes, they have covered the undersides of docks, boats, and anchors. They have also spread into streams and rivers throughout the US. In some areas they completely cover the substrate, sometimes covering other freshwater mussels. They can grow so densely that they block pipelines, clogging water intakes of municipal water supplies and hydroelectric companies. Recent research has found that zebra mussels don't attach to cupronickel alloys, which can be used to coat intake and discharge grates, navigational buoys, boats, and motors where the species tend to congregate.[23]

Zebra mussels are believed to be the source of deadly avian botulism poisoning that has killed tens of thousands of birds in the Great Lakes since the late 1990s.[32] Because they are so efficient at filtering water, they tend to accumulate pollutants and toxins. Although they are edible, for this reason most experts recommend against consuming zebra mussels.[33]

They are also responsible for the near extinction of many species in the Great Lake system by out-competing native species for food and by growing on top of and suffocating the native clams and mussels.[34]

However, zebra mussels and other non-native species are credited with the increased population and size of smallmouth bass in Lake Erie[35] and yellow perch in Lake St. Clair.[36] They cleanse the waters of inland lakes, resulting in increased sunlight penetration and growth of native algae at greater depths. This cleansing also increases water visibility and filters out pollutants. Each quagga and zebra mussel filters about 1 US quart (0.95 L) of water a day when confined to small tanks.[37] In lakes, their filtering effects are usually spatially restricted (near the lake bottom) due to non-homogeneous water column mixing.

Because zebra mussels damage water intakes and other infrastructure, methods such as adding oxidants, flocculants, heat, dewatering, mechanical removal, and pipe coatings are becoming increasingly common.[38]

Finally, the shells of zebra mussels are sharp and can inflict painful (although not normally serious) cuts when contacted by swimmers.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gary Rosenberg & Markus Huber (2013). "Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ Hoddle, M. S. "Quagga & Zebra Mussels". Center for Invasive Species Research, UC Riverside. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  3. ^ (Slovak) Lisický M. J. (1991). Mollusca Slovenska [The Slovak molluscs]. VEDA vydavateľstvo Slovenskej akadémie vied, Bratislava, 344 pp.
  4. ^ The National Atlas of the United States of America (2009-09-17). "Zebra Mussels". Nationalatlas.gov. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  5. ^ "Zebra mussel — Invasive species: Minnesota DNR". Dnr.state.mn.us. 1999-08-24. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  6. ^ a b c USGS Great Lakes Science Center, http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_invasive_zebramussel&title=InvasiveInvertebrates0&menu=research_invasive_invertebrates
  7. ^ Alteration of the Freshwater Ecosystem, An Overview, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
  8. ^ Garton, D. W.; Berg, D. J.; Stoeckmann, A. M.; Hagg, W. R. (1993). Biology of recent invertebrate invading species in the Great Lakes: The spiny water flea, Bythotrephes cederstoemi, and the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha. (in B. N. McKnight editor. Biological pollution: The control and impact of invasive exotic species. ed.). Indianapolis, Indiana.: Indiana Academy of Science. pp. 63–84. 
  9. ^ Sagoff, M. What’s Wrong with Exotic Species?. College Park, Maryland: Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, Maryland School of Public Affairs. Retrieved July 2007. 
  10. ^ "New Zebra Mussel Webpage". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  11. ^ Amy Benson (2009-12-22). "Zebra mussel FAQs". Fl.biology.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  12. ^ "Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)". Retrieved 2014-05-25. 
  13. ^ Daniel P. Molloya, Alexander Y. Karatayevb, Lyubov E. Burlakovab, Dina P. Kurandinac & Franck Laruellea (1997). "Natural enemies of zebra mussels: Predators, parasites, and ecological competitors". Reviews in Fisheries Science 5 (1): 27–97. doi:10.1080/10641269709388593. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  14. ^ a b Mackie, G; Gibbons, W; Muncaster, B; Gray, I (1989). The Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha: A synthesis of European Experiences and a preview for North America. Ontario Ministry of Environment. 
  15. ^ "Manitoba stops zebra mussel invasion with fertilizer". Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  16. ^ "Potash experiment killed zebra mussels at infested harbour, officials say". Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  17. ^ Blažka, F. (1893). "Do Čech zavlečená slávka: Dreissena polymorpha Pall". Vesmír (in Czech) 22 (15): 177–178. 
  18. ^ (Czech) Horsák M., Juřičková L., Beran L., Čejka T. & Dvořák L. (2010). "Komentovaný seznam měkkýšů zjištěných ve volné přírodě České a Slovenské republiky. [Annotated list of mollusc species recorded outdoors in the Czech and Slovak Republics]". Malacologica Bohemoslovaca, Suppl. 1: 1-37. PDF.
  19. ^ Giusti F and Oppi E (1973). "Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas) nuovamente in Italia. (Bivalvia, Dreissenidae)". Mem Mus Civ St Nat Verona (in Italian) 20: 45–49. 
  20. ^ Elisabetta Lori and Simone Cianfanelli (2006). "New records of Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771) (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Dreissenidae) from Central Italy". Aquatic Invasions 1 (4): 281–283. doi:10.3391/ai.2006.1.4.11. 
  21. ^ "British waterways fight invasion by Russian zebra mussels". BBC News. 2011-08-04. 
  22. ^ "Angling club closes down at 'clean' Salford Quays". BBC News. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  23. ^ a b c "Zebra Mussels Overwhelm U.S. Waterways in the Great Lakes Region and Beyond - Copper Screens and Coatings Provide a Solution to this $500 million Problem". Copper Development Association. 2009-07-30. Archived from the original on 2011-03-13. 
  24. ^ Drake, John M., and Jonathan M. Bossenbroek (2004). "The Potential Distribution of zebra mussels in the United States." BioScience (Vol. 54, No 10). Retrieved 2014-2-19.
  25. ^ "2 Mass. towns start fight against zebra mussel". Boston Herald. 2009-07-13. 
  26. ^ "Zebra mussels found in Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County" (Press release). MN Department of Natural Resources. 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  27. ^ "Zebra Mussel Discovered in North Dakota" (Press release). ND Game and Fish Department. 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2010-07-02. 
  28. ^ http://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5144740.pdf usda.gov. Zebra mussels found. Access date: 5/22/2010.
  29. ^ Stoler, Steve (2011-10-26). "Water district braces for North Texas drought crisis | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth". Wfaa.com. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  30. ^ Effler, Steven W., Carol M. Brooks, Keith Whitehead, Bruce Wagner, Susan M. Doerr, MaryGail Perkins, Clifford A. Siegfried, Leigh Walrath and Raymond P. Canale (1996). "Impact of Zebra Mussel Invasion on River Water Quality." Water Environment Research (Vol. 68, No 2). pp. 205-214. Retrieved 2014-2-19.
  31. ^ "Economic impacts of zebra mussels on drinking water treatment and electric power generation facilities". 2007-05-24. 
  32. ^ Janega, James (2008-01-15). "Botulism takes fatal toll on thousands of Great Lakes birds". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2011-04-05. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  33. ^ "Zebra Mussels - Too Toxic for ‘Taste Of". Buffalo Rising Online. Sep 24, 2008. Retrieved Jan 5, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Minnesota Sea Grant Overview". Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  35. ^ "Report at ESPN Sports". Sports.espn.go.com. 2005-03-16. Retrieved 2010-06-29. 
  36. ^ Exotic species at PUAF.
  37. ^ "Great Lakes: 'Amazing change'". Retrieved 2009-08-06. 
  38. ^ Strayer, David L. (2009). "Twenty Years of Zebra Mussels: Lessons from the Mollusk That Made Headlines." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (Vol. 7, No 3). pp. 135-141. Retrieved 2014-2-19.

Further reading[edit]

  • Minchin, D. 2003. The Zebra Mussel Dreissena polymopha (Pallas) extends its range westwards in Ireland. Bull. Ir. biogeog. Soc. 26: 176 - 18.
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