Twenty sites along the St. Lawrence River were sampled to determine if the distribution and abundance of invasive mussels (zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis)) are explained by physicochemical variables. Calcium concentration, substrate size, and depth independently explained significant proportions of variation in biomass for both species. Zebra mussel populations occurred at calcium levels as low as 8 mg Ca·L1, but quagga mussels were absent below 12 mg Ca·L1, suggesting that they have higher calcium requirements. Both species increased in biomass with increasing substrate size but displayed contrasting patterns with depth. Using combinations of these environmental variables, we developed stepwise multiple regression models to predict zebra mussel biomass and quagga mussel biomass. The zebra mussel model included calcium concentration, substrate size, and depth (r2 = 0.36, P < 0.0001), while the quagga mussel model included only substrate size and depth (r2 = 0.32, P < 0.0001). These results suggest that dreissenid mussel abundance (and correlated impacts) will vary predictably across environmental gradients, but the same predictive model will not be accurate for both species.
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