Lake morphometry determines Dreissena invasion dynamics.
Predicting the ecosystem effects of invasive species and the best control strategies requires understanding population dynamics and population regulation. Invasive bivalves zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena spp.) are considered the most aggressive invaders in freshwaters and have become major drivers of ecosystem processes in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Combining all lake-wide studies of Dreissena spp. conducted in the Great Lakes, we found that invasion dynamics are largely governed by lake morphometry. Where both species are present, quagga mussels generally become dominant in 8-13 years. Thereafter, zebra mussels remain common in shallow lakes and embayments and lake-wide Dreissena density may remain similar, while in deep lakes quagga led to a near-complete displacement of zebra mussels and an ensuing dramatic increase in overall dreissenid density. In deep lakes, overall Dreissena biomass peaked later and achieved ~ threefold higher levels than in shallow lakes. Comparison with 21 waterbodies in North America and Europe colonized by both dreissenids confirmed that patterns of invasion dynamics found in the Great Lakes are very consistent with other waterbodies, and thus can be generalized to other lakes. Our biophysical model predicted that the long-term reduction in primary producers by mussel grazing may be fourfold less in deep compared to shallow lakes due to thermal stratification and a smaller proportion of the epilimnion in contact with the bottom. While this impact remains greatest in shallow areas, we show that when lakes are vertically well-mixed, dreissenid grazing impact may be greatest offshore, revealing a potentially strong offshore carbon and phosphorus sink.