Potential ecological consequences of invasion of the quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis) into Lake Mead, Nevada–Arizona

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The recent invasion of the quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis) in Lake Mead, Nevada–Arizona, USA has the potential to alter biological relationships in this western reservoir. We evaluated the potential impacts by examining several measurements in the Boulder Basin of Lake Mead after the introduction of quagga mussel (2007–2008). Analysis of variance did not reveal any basin-wide changes in chlorophyll a concentrations or water clarity (Secchi disk depth). Although significantly lower chlorophyll a concentrations were found in the outer basin, this reduction was likely related to the decline of dissolved phosphorus concentrations. The abundance of cladocerans, copepods or rotifers has not changed since 2007. Overall, the results suggest that there are no statistically significant changes to many of the standard water quality indices routinely measured in the Boulder Basin of Lake Mead; however, given the complexity of biological, chemical and physical processes driving this ecosystem, the long-term impacts of quagga mussels remain uncertain. This manuscript identifies impacts known to be altered by quagga and zebra mussels in other systems and aims to help lake managers develop experimental and monitoring programs that will accurately address the impacts of quagga mussels.


Chlorophyll a; Dreissena bugensis; Environmental impact analysis; Introduced aquatic organisms; Invasive species; Quagga mussel; United States – Lake Mead; Water quality; Zebra mussel


Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology | Water Resource Management


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