The invasion of the Great Lakes by zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) has been accompanied by tremendous ecological change. In this paper we characterize the extent to which dreissenids dominate the nearshore of the Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario and examine mussel distribution in relation to environmental factors. We surveyed 27 5-m sites and 25 20-m sites in late August 2003. Quagga mussels dominated all sites (mean: 9,404/m2; range 31–24,270), having almost completely replaced zebra mussels. Round gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) were associated with quagga populations dominated by large mussels. Quagga mussel total mass was low at 5-m sites with high upwelling frequency; we believe this is the first documentation of reduced benthic biomass in areas of upwelling in Lake Ontario. Overall, we estimated 6.32×1012 quagga mussels weighing 8.13×1011 g dry weight and carpeting ∼66% of the nearshore benthic habitat. Quagga mussels are a dominant and defining feature of the Lake Ontario nearshore, and must be accounted for in management planning.
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Vol. 32 • No. 1