Concern exists that the introduction of dreissenid mussels following long-term effects of pollution may have completely eliminated native mussel species from Lake Erie. Natural seiche events were used to facilitate surveys for live unionids on five occasions in the western basin of Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay between 2007 and 2009, and beach and estuary surveys were conducted at numerous additional sites between 2004 and 2009. Sixteen unionid species were found living in or near Lake Erie, including six sites in the nearshore zone of the lake. Each community consisted of live individuals from two to eight species, and evidence included live and/or fresh dead material from several state listed species at multiple sites. Where estimated, the mean overall density was low at 0.09unionids/m2, although similar to other known unionid refuges in the lower Great Lakes. While the ephemeral nature of seiche events makes them a limited survey tool, their application combined with increasing numbers of fresh shells washing ashore over the past few years indicates that unionids are extant in the western basin of Lake Erie, and may further suggest that conditions may be improving for native mussel species.
- Great Lakes
- Lake Erie