Zebra Mussel Impacts
The presence of zebra mussels in Massachusetts presents a variety of ecological, recreational and economic concerns.
Native Species at Greatest Risk
As of July 28, 2009, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has identified native species on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act list that are at greatest risk from the presence of zebra mussels in the western part of the state.
Housatonic River Drainage
Triangle Floater (Alasmidonta undulata) Special Concern
Creeper (Strophitus undulatus) Special Concern
Boreal Marstonia (Marstonia lustrica) State Endangered
Connecticut River Drainage
Yellow Lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa) State Endangered
Dwarf Wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon) State & Federally Endangered
Swollen Wedgemussel (Alasmidonta varicose) State Endangered
Potential Ecological Effects
The possible ecological effects of zebra mussels include:
- Reduction in density levels of phyto- and zooplankton
- Diversion of energy from pelagic community to benthic community
- Water quality-increased water clarity/plants
- Fisheries community
- Biomagnification of toxics in the food web
Zebra mussels can dominate the invertebrate community both in density and biomass in benthic communities. The mussels may either displace or reduce the abundance of indigenous species.
(Photo Source: Wisconsin Dept.. Natural
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources)
Raw water intakes such as those at drinking water, electric generation, and industrial facilities can become blocked with zebra mussels.
(Photo Source: ZeeStop Company, Ontario, Canada)
- Beaches may be impacted by the sharp shells that wash up in shallow areas, which can cut bathers and litter beaches.
- Decomposition of mussels can also create obnoxious odors.
- Zebra mussels attached to boat hulls can increase drag and reduce speed resulting in increased fuel consumption in motorized boats.
- Mussels clog engine intake.
(Photo: Water Education Foundation, California)
The above information was derived from a review and subsequent presentation by DFW staff about zebra mussels made at a Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting on July 28, 2009.