U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Mohr, L.C., and Nalepa, T.F. (Editors). 2005. Proceedings of a workshop on the dynamics of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and the amphipod Diporeia spp. in the Great Lakes. Great Lakes Fish. Comm. Tech. Rep. 66.


Populations of the amphipods Diporeia spp. are declining in all of the Great Lakes except Lake Superior. We examine characteristics and potential causes of declines in southern Lake Michigan and outer Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron. Amphipod populations began to decline within 3-4 years after zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) colonized both areas. In Lake Michigan, which was better studied, the decline occurred first in shallow waters (<30 m) and then progressed deeper (51-90 m). Between 1980- 1981 (pre-Dreissena) and 1998-1999 (post-Dreissena), densities at sites in these two depth intervals declined 92% and 58%, respectively. At a 45-m site in southeastern Lake Michigan, densities of Diporeia spp. declined to near zero within six months even though mussels were never collected at the site itself. At a nearby 45-m site, densities declined gradually to zero over a six-year period and correlated with increased mussel densities. Although mussels are likely outcompeting Diporeia spp. populations for food, and food limitation is probably a contributing factor to population declines, populations show no physiological signs of starvation; lipid content is at a maximum as densities approach zero. Pathogens, fish predation, contaminants, and low dissolved oxygen do not appear to be the sole causes of population declines. The decline of Diporeia spp. is likely to continue as dreissenid populations expand.