New research has revealed that quagga mussels have taken charge of circling phosphorus stored in North America's great lakes, thereby decreasing the level of phosphorus. 

Unquestionably North America's lake is the largest connected water system in the world. In more than 30 years, the entirety of their biology has changed following the installation of intrusive populations of zebra and quagga mussels. This has resulted in a huge reduction in the multitude of native plants and animals. 

(Photo : Josh Serenso )

The Invasion

The cycling of the lake's stores of phosphorus, one of the few components fundamental to nearly all life, has been taken over by the quagga mussels according to a new study. "Many European lakes might be headed for similar reduction, now that the mussels are spreading there" the authors warned.

With the common number of invasive species all over, mussels arrived and thrived in flurry waters from their native Ukraine, and this is because there were no natural predators to keep them under control.

When the mussels focused pollutants in their tissue, it dug out troubles for the very few fishes and (human beings) that could have devoured them in a cleaner state. 

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Often, there are more than 10,000 mussels per square meter (1000 per square foot) in the lower lakes, leaving zero space for anything else on the lake bed.

Professor Sergei Katsev from the University of Minnesota Duluth in a statement said that quagga mussels are the dominant life form in the Great Lakes when it comes to biomass.

The mussels consume so much phytoplankton that the creation of living material from sunlight has dropped by up to 70 percent far away from the shoreline. 

It would surprise you to know that these creatures are the presiding life form in the great lakes, professor Sergei Katsev added. 

The mussels started taking over when the lakes were recuperating from algal blooms caused by a large amount of phosphorus that reduced oxygen in the lake and killed its inhabitants.

According to Katsev, a co-author, this is two strikes in one for the lake and the two incidents were connected in a way. As it turned out, the mussels caused damage by altering the distribution of phosphorus. 

Zebra mussels
(Photo : GLERL 5)

Quagga Mussels vs Zebra Mussels 

The quagga mussels have won the take-over and they are dominating and beating the zebra mussels. According to the report, there are almost more phosphorus in the tissue and shells of the quagga mussels than there in the entire great lake. 

Lead author, Dr. Jiying Ling stated that the mussels have diverted the normal pathway phosphorus circles in the lake. The outcome of this is that the number of lives that can thrive in the lake is now controlled by the mussels.

The life and death of the mussels would spark fluctuations in the availability of phosphorus. And this causes an imbalance in the ecosystem and makes the life of other species difficult. 

The three lakes are facing similar problems but that of lake Ontario is more likely to be solved more easily than the other two. The number of mussels present is different for each of them.

Lake Ontario can be redeemed by reducing the input of phosphorus. They are still yet to come up with solutions on how to deal with the other lakes. 

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