Volume 3, Issue 4 (April 2006)
Distribution and Ecology of Dreissena Polymorpha (Pallas) and Dreissena Bugensis (Andrusov) in the Upper Volga Basin
This paper presents data on contemporary distribution patterns of two species of Dreissenidae, the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and the Quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis), and their role in ecosystem processes in the Ivan'kovo, Uglich, Rybinsk, and Gorky Reservoirs of the Upper Volga River basin. The role of zebra mussel was also studied in experimental mesocosms of 15 m3. Maximum abundance and species diversity of macroinvertebrates, especially of leeches, polychaetes, crustaceans, and heterotopic insects, were attained in the portions of reservoirs where Dreissenidae were present and in experimental mesocosms where zebra mussel biomass was the highest. In the mesocosm studies, the presence of zebra mussel druses (colonies) provided shelter for macroinvertebrates, reducing their vulnerability to predation by perch (Perca fluviatilis) larvae and yearlings, thereby increasing macroinvertebrate species diversity. It was shown that in addition to its role in aquatic biocenosis (ecological community) formation and water purification, Dreissenidae are important food objects for benthophagous fishes, especially roach (Rutilus rutilus). Examination of intestines of benthophagous fishes showed that the length of Dreissenidae ranged from 5 to 20 mm in roach; from 4 to 14 mm in silver bream (Blicca bjoerkna), and from 2 to 10 mm in bream (Abramis brama). The largest mussels consumed were Quagga mussels up to 30 mm, noted in the predatory cyprinid. ide (Leuciscus idus).