Invasive dreissenid mussel effects on phosphorus dynamics in Lake Ontario: insights from integrated hydrodynamic-ecological modeling.
Invasive dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena bugensis) have a profound effect on the total phosphorus (TP) budget in Lake Ontario, which in turn influences ecological processes such as the resurgence of the benthic alga Cladophora. A validated three-dimensional integrated hydrodynamic and ecological modeling framework is applied to quantify the impact that dreissenids have on the spatial and species distribution of TP in the lake. Model results for April to September 2013 show that dreissenids decrease TP in the water column by about 1812 metric tonnes, which is about 60% of the tributary TP loading to the lake. This reduction in TP affects other processes controlling its distribution. Physical transport of TP from nearshore to offshore waters is reduced, and the amount of TP involved in chemical reactions is reduced, while TP processed by biological transformations is increased. This study provides the first attempt to quantify the TP budget changes in Lake Ontario by dreissenids using numerical modeling, and findings of this study can be generalized to other lakes with similar conditions.