Species Information

Quagga mussels Quagga mussels
J. E. Marsden
Quagga mussels
J. E. Marsden
Quagga mussel
Dreissena rostriformis bugensis

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Similar Species
  • Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha

History
  • Native to Ukraine
  • Initial introduction believed to be the result of ballast water discharge from transoceanic ships
  • Since being first discovered in Great Lakes in 1988-89, the species has spread widely into freshwater habitats across North America
  • Slowly dominating over zebra mussel in US and Europe

Characteristics
  • Bi-valve up to 1.5 inches (4 cm)
  • Shell usually has dark concentric rings; color is paler near the hinge
  • When laid on edge, quagga shell topples over whereas the zebra shell is stable
  • Valves (shell halves) are asymmetrical forming a curved line when valves are closed

Habitat
  • Lakes, estuaries, streams
  • Can colonize both hard and soft substrata
  • Tolerate salinity to 6 ppt, temperatures to approximately 29 degrees C
  • Quagga mussel can live at greater depths than zebra mussel

Known Distribution in the Northeast
  • New York, Massachusetts, and the St. Lawrence River as far north as Quebec City 

Impacts
  • Voracious filter feeders, removing microscopic plants and animals from the water, reducing food available to other aquatic animals
  • May cause declines in fish populations
  • Clog intakes for power plants, industrial facilities, and public drinking water supplies
  • Heavily colonize both hard and soft surfaces including beaches, boat hulls, docks, etc.
  • High potential for rapid adaptation to extreme environmental conditions 
  • Economic impacts in the billions of dollars

Quagga mussels
J. E. Marsden