A Histological Study of Lhe Reproductive Pattern of Zebra Mussels.
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AbstractThe zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771), is a freshwater bivalve mollusc introduced into North America within the past decade. A native of Eastern Europe, it spread through Western Europe during the last century and became established on this continent after apparently being released as larvae from the ballast water of a trans-Atlantic ship in the vicinity of Lake St. Clair, between Great Lakes Erie and Huron in 1985 or 1986 (Heben, Muncaster, and Mackie 1989). The mussel has since spread into all of the Great Lakes (Robens 1990) and has been sighted as far west as Duluth, MN, and Green Bay, WI, as far east as the St. Lawrence River, and as far south as New Orleans, LA. Dreissena polymorpha is a byssate epifouling bivalve, attaching by means of proteinaceous byssal threads to any hard surface in the water (Kilgour and Mackie 1993). No other purely freshwater bivalve native to North America has this mode of life as an adult. The zebra mussel's reproductive cycle is characterized by a planktonic veliger larvae that requires no host, but floats in the water column for about 1 month before settling to the bottom to assume benthic life (Stanczykowska 1977). All other indigenous freshwater bivalves require either a host fish or the gill chamber of an adult bivalve for larval development (Mackie 1991). Because it possesses these characteristics, the zebra mussel has been able to occupy a unique ecological niche, endowing it with the ability to very rapidly infiltrate the waters into which it has been introduced.