Water Quality Impacts and Indicators of Metabolic Activity of the Zebra Mussel Invasion of the Seneca River

TitleWater Quality Impacts and Indicators of Metabolic Activity of the Zebra Mussel Invasion of the Seneca River
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsEffler, SW, Matthews, DA, Brooks-Matthews, CA, Perkins, M, Siegfried, CA, Hassett, JM
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Keywordsaquatic ecosystem, dissolved oxygen, Dreissena polymorpha, metabolic activity indicators, waste assimilative capacity, water quality impacts

ABSTRACT: The conspicuous shifts in summertime values of common measures of water qualify that have persisted for 10 years (1993 to 2002) in the Seneca River, New York, as a result of the zebra mussel invasion are documented. Resolution of patterns in time and space is supported by water quality monitoring that extends back to the late 1970s. Patterns are evaluated to describe the stability of impacts and quantify metabolic activity of the invader. The water quality impacts that have persisted unabated for 10 years since the invasion are the most severe documented for a river in North America. Changes in summer median conditions since the invasion include: (1) a 16-fold decrease in chlorophyll concentration (Chi), (2) a 2.5-fold increase in Secchi disc transparency, (3) a 17-fold increase in soluble reactive phosphorus concentration, (4) a 3.7-fold increase in total ammonia concentration, (5) a greater than 25 percent decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration, and (6) a decrease in pH of 0.55 units. The strength of these signatures has been driven by anthropogenic influences that include upstream nutrient loading and morphometric modifications of the river, and the functioning of Cross Lake, through which the river flows. This hypereutrophic lake sustains dense zebra mussel populations and related water quality impacts in the river downstream of the lake outflow by acting as a source of veligers and suitable food for this bivalve. Evidence is presented that levels of metabolic activity of the zebra mussel in this river have been resource limited, manifested through increased consumption of Chl and DO with increased delivery of these constituents in the lake's outflow.