IBS 2022 Poster


Predicting the invasion success of zebra and quagga mussels


Zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and D. rostriformis bugensis) are a pressing threat to freshwater biodiversity in North America. Arriving in the Great Lakes in the 1980s, they have since spread across the continent via boats and natural watershed dynamics to rapidly colonize and alter lakes and rivers. These mussels have steadily marched westward and are poised to invade British Columbia. A comprehensive approach is required in order to predict the pathways through which zebra and quagga mussels will arrive, where they might be able to establish themselves and what impacts they will have. Here we present the results of just such a comprehensive modelling effort, which aims to build a replicable and biophysically-grounded series of models to predict each step of a possible invasion. Through a meta-analysis we have identified the environmental variables most likely to contribute to the large-scale patterns of the invasion and have extracted response curves from the literature for each variable in order to build a mechanistic niche model for dreissenid mussels. We then used the information extracted from these analyses of the literature to gather environmental data to evaluate the niche model against, providing us with a stepwise model of establishment success at the larval and adult life stages. These results represent an important step forward in our ability to understand the constraints on zebra and quagga mussel invasional success, and the framework as a whole is an important step forward in our ability to model the invasion of other species.


1 - Ricciardi, A., Neves, R.J. & Rasmussen, J.B. (1998) Impending extinctions of North American freshwater mussels (Unionoida) following the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) invasion. Journal of Animal Ecology 67, 613–619. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2656.1998.00220.x

2 - Ashcroft, M.B., Casanova-Katny, A., Mengersen, K., Rosenstiel, T.N., Turnbull, J.D., Wasley, J., Waterman, M.J., Zúñiga, G.E. & Robinson, S.A. (2016) Bayesian methods for comparing species physiological and ecological response curves. Ecological Informatics 34, 35–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoinf.2016.03.001

3 - Martínez-Meyer, E., Díaz-Porras, D., Peterson, A.T. & Yáñez-Arenas, C. (2013) Ecological niche structure and rangewide abundance patterns of species. Biology Letters 9, 20120637. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.0637


Research funded by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada.

This research was conducted on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), Kwikwetlem (kwikwəƛ̓əm), and Katzie Nations, and involves the unceded traditional territories of the Sylix (Okanagan) peoples.

Contact info

Twitter: sfbrownlee

Email: sbrownlee@live.ca

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