Invasive quagga mussels are so entwined and influential in Lake Michigan’s food web that they are an essential first line of study. Scientists on the R/V Lake Guardian in 2015 measured the density and biomass of quaggas all across the lake using traditional sampling methods like PONAR grab...
Quagga and zebra mussels are filter-feeders, and feed by drawing water into their bodies and straining out microscopic plants, animals, and debris for food. This process can lead to increased water clarity and a depleted food supply for other aquatic organisms. Increased water clarity, and thus increased light penetration, can lead to an increase in rooted plants. A reduced food supply may affect the food web, including game fish.
The mussels’ filtering process can also lead to algal blooms. When filtering, quagga and zebra mussels tend to reject blue-green algae, and spit them back into the water. These algae are then able to thrive because other types of algae are reduced.
Quagga and zebra mussels attach to submerged surfaces. Boats, boat motors, water intake pipes, submersible pumps, docks, floats, rocks, native mussels, and aquatic plants are all susceptible to being colonized by mussels. Large colonies can take over fish spawning areas and beaches, cutting the feet of potential swimmers. Their dense colonies also clog water intake lines.
Download the factsheet Zebra Mussels: Questions and Answers for Inland Lake Managers