Main content area

Coexistence of the native benthic amphipod Diporeia spp. and exotic dreissenid mussels in the New York Finger Lakes

Watkins, James M., Rudstam, Lars G., Mills, Edward L., Teece, Mark A.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2012 v.38 no.2 pp. 226-235
Amphipoda, Bacillariophyceae, Dreissena bugensis, Dreissena polymorpha, fatty acids, habitats, lakes, mussels, population, tracer techniques, trophic relationships, Lake Superior, New York
Populations of the benthic amphipod Diporeia spp. have sharply declined since the early 1990s in all North America's Great Lakes except Lake Superior. The onset and continued decline coincides with the invasion of these lakes by zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) mussels and the spread of quagga mussels to deep habitats. The six deepest Finger Lakes of central New York (Seneca, Cayuga, Skaneateles, Canandaigua, Keuka, and Owasco) have historically been Diporeia habitat and have had dreissenids for more than a decade. These lakes represent a wide range of trophic state, maximum depth, and dreissenid invasion history. We hypothesized that Diporeia abundance would be negatively impacted by dreissenid mussel expansion in the Finger Lakes. During 2006–2010, we sampled Diporeia and mussel populations in these six lakes. Diporeia was present in all six lakes, and was abundant (2000/m²) in Owasco Lake that has only zebra mussels and in Cayuga and Seneca Lakes that have had zebra and quagga mussels since 1994. Diporeia abundance was lowest (1000/m²) in Skaneateles, Canandaigua, and Keuka Lakes where quagga mussels have recently expanded. Productivity indicators explained much of the variability of Diporeia abundance. The persistence of Diporeia with quagga mussels in these lakes may be because of available alternative food resources. Fatty acid tracers indicate that Diporeia from Owasco Lake, the lake without quagga mussels, utilize diatoms, but Diporeia from Cayuga Lake that coexist with abundant quagga mussels also use food resources associated with terrestrial detritus that cannot be intercepted by dreissenids.