Colonization by Dreissena of Great Lakes coastal ecosystems: how suitable are wetlands? How suitable are wetlands?

K. M. Nelson, Donald G Uzarski, Carl R. Ruetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Invasive zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) have become widespread throughout the Great Lakes basin. However, some types of Great Lakes coastal wetlands may be unsuitable for Dreissena invasion. To test this observation, artificial substrata were placed in wetlands (with emergent vegetation) and in adjacent open water (without emergent vegetation) habitats in two types of Great Lakes coastal ecosystems: drowned river mouth (DRM) and coastal fringing systems. Wetlands in DRM systems generally have deep organic sediment and limited water movement, whereas coastal fringing wetlands generally have low to moderate amounts of organic sediment and intense wind and wave action. We did not find a significant difference in Dreissena colonisation between wetlands and adjacent open water habitat in fringing systems. However, Dreissena colonisation was significantly lower in DRM wetlands than in the adjacent open water. We also found significantly lower survival in DRM wetlands than adjacent open water habitats, whereas survival did not differ significantly in coastal fringing wetlands and the adjacent open water. Our results suggest that vulnerability to Dreissena invasion varied among wetland types with DRM wetlands being less suitable than fringing wetlands. We suggest that colonisation and survival of Dreissena is lower in wetlands with deep organic sediment and less turbulent water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2290-2299
Number of pages10
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Dreissena invasion
  • Quagga mussel
  • Refugia
  • Wetlands
  • Zebra mussel


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