Water quality effects following establishment of the invasive Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas) in a shallow eutrophic lake: implications for pollution mitigation measures.
This study investigates whether ecosystem alteration occurred in a shallow, lowland lake following establishment of the alien zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas). Measurements of total phosphorus (TP) loads, lake TP concentrations, phytoplankton (chlorophyll a) and transparency levels for the period 1990-2008 were examined to determine the water quality effects of D. polymorpha. The period of time also included the implementation of catchment measures aimed at reducing phosphorus (P) loading to the lake. A range of loading-response models was tested to explore changes in the net sedimentation rate for P. Results show that while high TP loads from the catchment were reduced, TP concentrations in the lake remained high after D. polymorpha invasion. Decoupling of the previous chlorophyll a-TP relationship also occurred. Results from a TP loading-response model that closely simulated observed concentrations in the lake prior to establishment of D. polymorpha indicated that measured TP post establishment was statistically higher than predicted for the same conditions but without the presence of D. polymorpha. Data presented in the paper highlight the need to consider the potential impacts of invasive species in evaluations of the effectiveness of measures aimed at mitigating aquatic pollution.