Invasive Species: Zebra Mussels

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  • Topic: Zebra mussel, Great Lakes, Invasive species
  • Pages : 5 (1835 words )
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  • Published : April 3, 2011
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ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
ReginaKim-PC/Regina Kim2010-10-03T23:47:00URL recognition
College Bio
October 4, 2010
Invasive Species Research Paper

Zebra Mussel
The balance of an ecosystem is essential to the survival of almost all living things in that area. As technology advances the ability to transport people and goods also increases along with it. When people transport diseases, the natives are unaccustomed to and are more vulnerable to the ailment. Similarly to the transport of disease, an invasive species can act as parasite to the functioning ecosystem.1 Non-native species can threaten the very existence of other native species while flourishing another. Zebra mussels are a well known invasive species which are still reeking havoc on United States waterways. Since their founding in 1988 zebra mussels have damaged the delicate balance of the North American marine environment traveling from the Great Lakes to every connected fresh waterway. They bring numerous effects, almost none of them beneficial to the North American waterways. Zebra mussels come from the family Dreissenidae, genus Dreissena and species D. polymorpha.6 A Dreissena polymorpha is a bivalve mussel that is native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia In the Caspian, Black and Aral Sea. 5 In the late 1700's the Dreissena polymorpha spread to Western Europe; this sudden spread was due to the construction of interlinked canals. By the 1830's zebra mussels were spread almost entirely through out Europe's fresh water ways.6 The canals which provided the transport of the people and goods brought along with it the parasitical mussels. These zebra mussels are speculated to have come frome the ballast waters that were dumped by European trading vessels. Soon after international trade became routine, the ability to displace she mussels greatly increased. In June of 1988 the first colony of zebra mussels were found in Lake St. Clair and began to spread all over the United States waterways. Zebra Mussels are characterized by a “D” shape and usually have dark stripes along its shell. They also have bysall threads coming out of its opening. The zebra mussel is commonly confused with its cousin, Dreissena bugensis, which is also a fresh water mollusk, but is larger in size and rounder in shape. Generally small, zebra mussels can grow from just a few centimeters up to two inches7. Although they are small in size, they grow in clusters becoming an eminent part of the marine environment. After two years of age a female mussel can reproduce up to 30,000 to a million eggs per year, spawning multiple times. The eggs are able to swim freely, begin carried down the water currents, and spread to other locations. The mussels are able to attach to an area using their byssus, a small thread like external organ which is used to attach its self on any hard surface which is what causes the greatest threat to the environment. 4 The rapid multiplication of these mussel pose the greatest threat to other native species. With their sheer volume, they are able to take over the lakes and fresh rivers. With the greater numbers of these mussels they are able to grow on top of other living organisms. In Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie the indigenous unionid clam, native to the lakes, was almost extinct do to the rapid colonization of it's territories. The zebra mussels would attach themselves to the clams outer shells, subduing their abilities to perform the functions necessary to survive. 7 Unlike the zebra mussel's places of origin, the Caspian, Black and Aral Sea, the North American fresh water ways...
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