Biological invasions of aquatic systems disrupt ecological communities, and cause major changes in diversity and ecosystem function. The Laurentian Great Lakes of North America have been dramatically altered by such invasions, especially zebra (Dreissena polymorpha
) and quagga (D. rostriformis bugensis
) mussels. Responses to mussel invasions have included increased water clarity, and decreased chlorophyll and phytoplankton abundance. Although not all systems have responded similarly, in general, mussels have changed nutrient dynamics and physical habitat conditions. Therefore examination of different impacts can help us further understand mechanisms that underlie ecosystem responses to biological invasions. To aid our understanding of ecosystem impacts, we sampled established locations along a well-studied trophic gradient in Green Bay, Lake Michigan, after the 1993 zebra mussel invasion. A strong trophic gradient remained during the period sampled after the mussel invasion (2000–2012). However, mean summer chlorophyll increased and other measures of phytoplankton biomass (microscope and electronic cell counting) did not change significantly. Multivariate analyses of phytoplankton community structure demonstrate a significant community shift after the invasion. Cyanobacteria increased in dominance, with Microcystis
becoming the major summer taxon in lower Green Bay. Diatom diversity and abundance also increased and Chlorophyta became rare. Phytoplankton responses along the trophic gradient of Green Bay to zebra mussel invasion highlight the importance of mussel effects on nutrient dynamics and phytoplankton diversity and function.
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