Sarnelle, O., J. D. White, G. P. Horst, and S. K. Hamilton. 2012. Phosphorus addition reverses the positive effect of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) on the toxic cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeruginosa. Water Research 46:3471-3478.

Citable PDF link: https://lter.kbs.msu.edu/pub/3137

We tested the hypothesis that zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) have positive effects on the toxin-producing cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeruginosa, at low phosphorus (P) concentrations, but negative effects on M. aeruginosa at high P, with a large-scale enclosure experiment in an oligotrophic lake. After three weeks, mussels had a significantly positive effect on M. aeruginosa at ambient P (total phosphorus, TP of ~10 μg L−1), and a significantly negative effect at high P (simulating a TP of ∼40 μg L−1 in lakes). Positive and negative effects were strong and very similar in magnitude. Thus, we were able to ameliorate a negative effect of Dreissena invasion on water quality (i.e., promotion of Microcystis) by adding P to water from an oligotrophic lake. Our results are congruent with many field observations of Microcystis response to Dreissena invasion across ecosystems of varying P availability.

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