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Also: Lake St. Clair
  Quagga Mussels
in the Great Lakes Region

What's New | Overview | Distribution Maps | Studies/Management Plans | Federal Resources | State/Provincial Resources
Current invaders:
Crustaceans: Rusty Crayfish | Spiny Water Flea
Fish: Goby (Round) | Goby (Tubenose) | Rudd | Ruffe | Sea Lamprey | White Perch
Mollusks: Quagga Mussel | Zebra Mussel
Plants: Curly-leaf Pondweed | Eurasian Watermilfoil | Phragmites (non-native) | Purple Loosestrife
Viruses: Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus (VHSv)
Potential invaders:
Fish: Asian Carp

[Invasive species home page]

What's New
Lake Huron whitefish feeling effects of invasive mussels
Great Lakes Echo (10/3)
Lake Huron whitefish are suffering from ecosystem changes caused by invasive quagga and zebra mussels.

Why haven't invasive zebra and quagga mussels overtaken Lake Superior?
MLive (9/15)
Lake Superior has successfully repelled the invasive dreissenid mussels thanks to a unique combination of temperature, chemistry, and food availability.

State has new weapon in fight against invasive mussels
Detroit Free Press (8/15)
Researchers say they believe they may have finally found a safe, effective means of combating zebra and quagga mussels. But completely eradicating the invaders from Michigan's waterways remains a pipe dream, experts say.

COMMENTARY: Quagga mussels impact Lake Michigan salmon
The Daily Reporter (6/15)
Where did the invasive quagga mussels originate? It probably came from the discharge of ballast water from ocean ships. And now, it's part of the Great Lakes ecosystem. It's a new problem that impacts every aspect of the lake food chain.

House measure supports shippers on water dumping
The Associated Press (5/24)
A plan gaining support in Congress and backed by the cargo shipping industry would establish a nationwide policy for dumping ballast water into U.S. waterways that environmental groups say would open the door to more invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels.

Twelfth day of invasive species Christmas: Twelve quaggas clogging
Great Lakes Echo (1/5)
Quagga mussels are now the dominant invasive mussel in Lake Michigan. A congener of zebra mussels, the quagga mussel can tolerate colder water and colonize soft substrates.

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PhragmitesQuagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) are fingernail-sized freshwater mollusks native to the Ukraine that attach to objects and other organisms.  

Quagga mussels were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1989 near Port Colborne of Lake Erie. They were found coexisting with dense populations of zebra mussels (Dreissena polyymorpha). Although these invasive mollusks are genetically and morphologically distinct, both have biological characteristics allowing their establishment and spread to watersheds across the United States.

While zebra mussels are generally limited to the colonization of hard substrates (e.g., rocky bottoms and water intake structures), quagga mussels are able to colonize soft substrate. This characteristic has allowed the quagga mussel to spread to areas of sand and sandy silt, such as the bottom of Lake Erie. Quagga mussels are also better able to flourish in low-food conditions than zebra mussels, allowing them to colonize less productive waters in much greater numbers.

Environmental impact: quaggas are extremely effective in filtering water for food, removing large amounts of phytoplankton and suspended particulate, decreasing the food supply for zooplankton and forage fishes, and thereby impacting the entire food web. Quagga mussel filtering has dramatically reduced primary production (photosynthetic production of chemical energy) in lakes Michigan and Huron. There have been significant impacts to the spring bloom of diatoms (silica based algae) by quagga infestations, disrupting the lower food web. Dreissenid mussels, including the quagga, have been implicated in the basin wide crash of populations of Diporeia, a bottom-dwelling invertebrate that once served as an important food source to many Great Lakes fishes. In addition to altering food webs, quagga mussels accumulate contaminants within their tissues, which can affect wildlife that feed on the species.

The quagga mussel also clogs water intake structures, such as pipes and screens, thereby reducing pumping capacity for power and water treatment plants and causing significant economic impacts to industries, companies, and communities.  Recreation-based industries and activities also have been impacted by the quagga mussel as docks, breakwalls, buoys, boats, and beaches all have been heavily colonized by this species.

Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey

For complete overview, identification and management:
View full, print-ready factsheet

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Distribution Maps
Geographic information on the location of aquatic invasive species sightings in the United States is made available through the U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) program.

NAS distribution maps for the quagga mussel

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Studies, Assessments and Management Plans
A Review of the Biology and Ecology of the Quagga Mussel (Dreissena bugensis), a Second Species of Freshwater Dreissenid Introduced to North America (1996)
Mills, E.L.,G. Rosenberg, A.P. Spidle, M. Ludyanskiy, Y. Pligin, and B. May
From the Symposium Biology, Ecology and Physiology of Zebra Mussels presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Zoologists, 4-g January 1995, at St. Louis, Missouri.

Impact of Zebra and Quagga Mussels (Dreissena spp.) on Freshwater Unionids (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in the Detroit River (1998)
Schloesser, D.W., W. P. Kovalak, G. D. Longton, K. L. Ohnesorg and R. D. Smithee
The goal of this study was to assess the impact of zebra and quagga mussel infestation on unionids (Bivalvia: Unionidae). Unionids were sampled in the Detroit River in 1982–1983, before mussels invaded the river, and in 1992 and 1994, after mussels invaded the river.

Quagga-Zebra Mussel Action Plan for Western U.S. Waters (2010)
Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species
This plan summarizes current dreissenid mussel management strategies of agencies across all levels of government, identifies priority actions, and makes recommendations on ways to coordinate activities.

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U.S. and Canadian Federal Resources
Dreissena Species FAQs, A Closer Look
U.S. Geological Survey-Florida Integrated Science Center

Quagga Mussel Sightings Distribution
U.S. Geological Survey - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species

Species Profiles: Quagga Mussel
U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Invasive Species Information Center

State and Provincial Resources
Great Lakes Photography: Quagga Mussel
Michigan Sea Grant

Quagga Mussel - Alien Profile
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Environmental Education for Kids

Quagga Mussel Classification Table
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Quagga Mussel Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Sea Grant

Quagga Mussels (Dreissena bugensis)
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Quagga Mussels Fact Sheet
Michigan Sea Grant

Zebra Mussel & Quagga Mussel – Fact Sheet
Pennsylvania Sea Grant

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Updated: December 17, 2017
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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