Environmental factors affecting settlement of quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) veligers in Lake Mead, Nevada-Arizona, USA.
Environmental factors that can affect the settlement rate of quagga mussel veligers include flow velocity, water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO), conductivity, total organic carbon (TOC), and the surface roughness of monitoring substrates. In the present study, six artificial substrates, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, Concrete Underlayment Board (CUB), aluminum, stainless steel and fiberglass, were used to monitor the settlement of quagga mussel veligers at different water depths in Lake Mead, Nevada-Arizona, USA. Considering the hierarchical data structure of observed mussel densities, we investigated the relationship between mussel settlement on monitoring substrates and the surrounding environmental variables by applying the Linear Mixed Effects (LME) model. After normalization, the above six environmental variables were considered as independent factors in fixed-effect calculation, while water depth and substrate roughness acted as the group variable and the random term, respectively. The results indicated that flow velocity, water temperature, and DO were significant factors in determining the mussel settlement on substrates. TOC was barely significant while conductivity and pH had no impact on settlement of quagga mussel veligers. As to the random effect, no preference for substrate type could be found, while water depth caused considerably more variation in modeling since it might correlate with most environmental variables. There is need to emphasize the critical role of flow velocity which is often ignored by biologists - higher flow velocities significantly decreased the settlement of quagga mussel veligers on substrates. Therefore, to more efficiently monitor quagga mussel colonization in water bodies, artificial substrates should be deployed in areas without strong flow.