Retention and supply of zebra mussel larvae in a large river system: Importance of an upstream lake

J. A. Stoeckel, C. R. Rehmann, Daniel W Schneider, D. K. Padilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


1. Persistence of zebra mussel populations in river systems probably depends upon the presence of upriver sites capable of hosting self-recruiting adult populations that act as sources of larvae. In this paper we examine the importance of Lake Pepin, a natural riverine lake in the Upper Mississippi River, as an upriver source of larvae to the downstream populations of zebra mussels. 2. Field studies and modelling suggest that Lake Pepin plays a major role in maintaining zebra mussel populations in the Upper Mississippi River. Long water residence times in Lake Pepin allow for self-recruitment under the right hydraulic conditions. Larval abundance was low to absent upstream of the lake but increased dramatically downriver in all 3 years of the study. Travel time estimates in the Upper Mississippi River show that newly fertilised larvae drifting out of Lake Pepin can contribute substantially to the major downstream peak in larval abundance. In contrast, backwater and other off-channel sites are unlikely to drive main-channel abundance patterns. Larval abundances in off-channel sites were less than or equal to those in the main channel. 3. A key factor in assessing the importance of Lake Pepin as a source population was the abundance of early stage, unshelled larvae. Studies that consider only abundances of older shelled stages (visible by cross polarised lighting) may yield misleading results. Results of this study suggest that efforts to control zebra mussels in the Upper Mississippi River should focus on controlling adult populations within Lake Pepin and reducing or eliminating larvae exiting the lake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-930
Number of pages12
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Dreissena
  • Larvae
  • Population dynamics
  • Retention
  • River
  • Zebra mussel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Retention and supply of zebra mussel larvae in a large river system: Importance of an upstream lake'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this