U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in J. Great Lakes Res. 21(4):417-434.


The various life stages of the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) were examined during the initial years (1991-93) of the mussel's invasion into Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. Yearly trends in densities of larvae, newly-settled juveniles, and adults were poorly related. Larval densities were lowest in 1991 and increased each year, but the number of settled juveniles was highest in 1991. Adults increased between 1991 and 1992 and then declined in 1993. Mean adult densities at sites with hard substrates were 11,700,33,200, and 4,1001m2 in each of the 3 years, respectively. Year-to-year variation at individual sites was high and likely a result of recruitment dynamics and spatial patchiness of available substrate. By 1993, densities on hard substrates were generally similar throughout the bay, but length-frequency distributions in the inner and outer bay were quite different. The 1991-cohort was not distinguishable in the inner bay in 1993 either because of poor growth or a limited life span, but this cohort was readily distinguishable in the outer bay. 1n addition, ash-free dry weight of a standard 15-mm mussel in the inner bay declined 65% between 1991 and 1993. Although food concentrations (chlorophyll and particulate organic carbon) declined to low levels in 1993 and both densities and soft-tissue weight of Dreissena declined, it is not clear whether populations in the bay have peaked and are now at equilibrium with the surrounding environment.