U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in J. Great Lakes Res. 21(4):435-448.


A large-scale study of Saginaw Bay was initiated in 1990 and continued through 1993 to examine the effects of the zebra mussel colonization which began in summerlfall 1991. Saginaw Bay responded quickly to the zebra mussel colonization, as fall 1991 values of chlorophyll were similar to 1992 and 1993 values. In inner Saginaw Bay, where most zebra mussels were found, chlorophyll, kPAR, and total phosphorus values decreased, and Secchi disk depth increased during the study period, regardless of the presence or absence of zebra mussels at a specific station. At outer bay control stations no significant differences were found for chlorophyll, kPAR, and Secchi disk values. In order to examine longer-term trends, water quality data from 1979-1980 (STORED were combined with our 1990 data (pre-zebra mussel period) and compared to values from the post zebra mussel period (jail 1991, all 1992 and 1993). At stations with high densities of zebra mussels, chlorophyll and total P decreased by 66% and 48%, respectively, and Secchi disk values increased 88%. At outer bay control stations no significant differences were found for chlorophyll or Secchi disk. When parameters were averaged throughout inner Saginaw Bay, zebra mussels caused a 59% and 43% decrease in chlorophyll and in total phosphorus and a 60% increase in Secchi disk transparency. Although zebra mussels significantly altered water quality parameters in the pelagic region of Saginaw Bay, they did not necessarily change system trophic state; rather they altered the spatial partitioning of resources.