Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zebra, quagga mussels trump pollution as change agents in Lake Erie

Date:
July 9, 2014
Source:
SUNY Buffalo State
Summary:
Researchers find that invasive species, such as zebra mussels, have affected the composition of Lake Erie's zoobenthic community more than pollution has. In 1986, the zebra mussel was detected in Lake Erie, followed in 1989 by Dreissena rostriformis, the quagga mussel. "The zebra and quagga mussels are ecosystem engineers," said researchers, explaining that both are filter feeders that were brought to the Great Lakes by transoceanic shipping, and they out-compete native filter feeders, which then decrease in abundance.

Over the last half century, Lake Erie has been known for its level of pollution and its population of invasive species. Of the two, the invasive species seems to have had the greater effect on the lake's zoobenthic community.

That community -- creatures living on, near, or below the bottom of the lake -- is "fundamentally changed from its past," according to a paper published online in the current journal of the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Lyubov Burlakova, who works with the Great Lakes Center at SUNY Buffalo State, is the first author. The coauthors are Alexander Y. Karatayev, director of the center; Christopher Pennuto, a research associate with the center and biology professor at Buffalo State; and Christine Mayer, associate professor of ecology at the University of Toledo.

"The story of Lake Erie shows how profoundly human activity can affect an ecosystem," said Burlakova. She traces that activity as far back as the early 1800s, when people cut down forests and built sawmills and dams. In 1918, the first report documenting the deterioration of water quality was published by the International Joint Commission.

The number of people living in the Great Lakes basin grew dramatically throughout the first half of the twentieth century. By the 1950s, a declining mayfly population in the western basin of Lake Erie indicated widespread anthropogenic eutrophication (human activities resulting in more nutrients such as phosphorus in the water, leading in turn to decreased oxygen levels). As a result, the benthos population became dominated by species that could survive with much lower oxygen levels throughout the 1960s.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972 was signed by Canada and the United States. The authors report that subsequently the agreement, which introduced bans on the sale of phosphate detergents, improvements in waste water collection and treatment systems, and reductions in industry discharges, did indeed help to improve water quality. The benthic species that were dominant during the time of the most severe pollution declined as the pollution, especially phosphorus, abated.

However, in 1986, Dreissena polymorpha, the zebra mussel, was detected in Lake Erie, followed in 1989 by Dreissena rostriformis, the quagga mussel. "The zebra and quagga mussels are ecosystem engineers," said Burlakova. Both are filter feeders that were brought to the Great Lakes by transoceanic shipping, and they out-compete native filter feeders, which then decrease in abundance.

After analyzing historical data on benthic community composition in Lake Erie over the last 50 years, the authors conclude that the lake's benthic community has changed significantly, even after taking into account the challenges presented by differences in sampling design, gear and preservation techniques, and taxonomic resolution over the years. Although both zebra and quagga mussel populations have most likely peaked -- the zebra mussel around 1989 and the quagga mussel between 1998 and 2002 -- another invader, the round goby, has been preying on selected benthic groups, continuing to affect the composition of the community. However, the impact of the Dreissena invasion appears to have had a larger effect on the benthic community than all the other changes over the last five decades.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lyubov E. Burlakova, Alexander Y. Karatayev, Christopher Pennuto, Christine Mayer. Changes in Lake Erie benthos over the last 50years: Historical perspectives, current status, and main drivers. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jglr.2014.02.008

Cite This Page:

SUNY Buffalo State. "Zebra, quagga mussels trump pollution as change agents in Lake Erie." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709135505.htm>.
SUNY Buffalo State. (2014, July 9). Zebra, quagga mussels trump pollution as change agents in Lake Erie. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709135505.htm
SUNY Buffalo State. "Zebra, quagga mussels trump pollution as change agents in Lake Erie." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709135505.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) 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