Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Shows Zebra Mussels Can Colonize Sand And Mud

Date:
May 11, 1998
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Researchers have found that zebra mussels have built colonies on the sandy and muddy bottom of Lake Erie, a habitat previously thought incapable of supporting the animals.

COLUMBUS -- Researchers have found that zebra mussels have built colonies on the sandy and muddy bottom of Lake Erie, a habitat previously thought incapable of supporting the animals.

Since their Great Lakes debut in the mid-1980s, researchers believed that these tiny freshwater bivalves could only colonize hard, underwater surfaces such as rocks, clams and runoff pipes. The new findings are reported this week in the journal Nature.

“In terms of potential zebra mussel habitat, Lake Erie is wide open,” said Paul Berkman, senior research associate at Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Institute. “More than 90 percent of the Lake Erie floor is a soft substrate. This is a wake-up call.

“We found that zebra mussels clearly colonize sand and muddy substrates in the lake,” he said, adding that the densities of some zebra mussel colonies exceed 20,000 animals per square meter.

Berkman and his colleagues studied 200 kilometers of the Lake Erie floor from the New York-Pennsylvania border to the lake’s western basin. They determined that by 1995, zebra mussels covered about 2,000 square kilometers of the lake bed’s soft sediment.

“We do know that mussels colonize soft substrates and that they are doing this over a significant portion of the lake,” Berkman said.

A zebra mussel starts out as a microscopic larva and can attach itself to a single grain of sand or mud. When the animal becomes a juvenile, it starts secreting byssal threads, which serve as anchors to attach the mussel to a stable surface. It continues sending out these threads, picking up more sand grains and creating a mat of cemented sediment.

“This creates a hard substrate,” Berkman said. “By binding sand grains together with their byssal threads, the mussels create a conglomerate, subsequently settled by juveniles, which creates a bed of zebra mussels on the lake bottom.”

Researchers used side scan sonar (SSS), a device that sends out frequencies that can differentiate between hard and soft underwater surfaces.

“Since the side scan sonar signal is strongly reflected by hard substrate and weakly reflected by soft substrate, we could profile the lake bottom to determine where the zebra mussels were located,” Berkman said.

The researchers then used an underwater video camera attached to a submersible remotely operated vehicle to take pictures of the suspect areas and discovered zebra mussels had colonized the soft sediment of the lake bed.

“In studying patches of zebra mussels, we observed small mussels on the order of millimeters attached to individual sand grains,” Berkman said.He says the potential implications for this discovery are great.

“The only clear thing we know for sure is that zebra mussels can grow on soft substrates,” Berkman said. “All you can do is identify problems that haven’t been studied and begin developing the necessary ecological baselines to determine the future impact.”

Other researchers include Melissa Hultuch and Emily Tichich, both of the Byrd Polar Research Institute; David Garton of the Ohio Sea Grant Program; Gregory Kennedy and John Gannon of the United States Geological Survey; and Scudder Mackey, Jonathan Fuller and Dale Liebenthal, all of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

This study was funded by the National Sea Grant College Program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and administrated through the Ohio Sea Grant Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Study Shows Zebra Mussels Can Colonize Sand And Mud." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980511075839.htm>.
Ohio State University. (1998, May 11). Study Shows Zebra Mussels Can Colonize Sand And Mud. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980511075839.htm
Ohio State University. "Study Shows Zebra Mussels Can Colonize Sand And Mud." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980511075839.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins