Zebra Mussel - Dreissena polymorpha



Zebra Mussels are motile. They use their muscular foot to move about in their environment, including pipes, rocks, and many other structures. They use the muscular foot to move into estuaries and river mouths where they use their adaptation of excretory organs to battle the flow of water by using endosmosis endosmosis.

Zebra Mussels can also disperse during all life stages that enables them to rapidly spread. Veligers (the larva stage) invade downstream, and adults usually attach to boat hulls and floating objects. Both of these methods enable the Zebra Mussels to transport to new locations. Another beneficial adaptation of the Zebra Mussel is that there are not any native Zebra Mussels attached to pipemussels that have byssal adult stage. The Zebra Mussel has many advantages over the native species that allows them to dominate. They also use this byssus to attach to any hard surface. This trait is also common with many saltwater mussels, but not freshwater mussels. Zebra Mussels also do not require a host in order to complete their life cycle. This gives them another advantage over the native mussels. However, Zebra Mussels do have poor physiological resistance. They depend solely on rapid growth and fecundity for population recovery. The native North American mussels have an advantage over the invasive Zebra Mussel since they are able to adapt to stable environments where there is a small amount of disturbance and in turn developed resistance to environmental extremes. Check out the habitat page to see where they live!

The Zebra Mussels great filtering system can affect many surrounding species, such as freshwater fish. This can include species ranging from the fathead minnow, pumpkin seed fish, freshwater drum, and many others.