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The nearshore phosphorus shunt: a consequence of ecosystem engineering by dreissenids in the Laurentian Great Lakes

The nearshore phosphorus shunt: a consequence of ecosystem engineering by dreissenids in the Laurentian Great Lakes

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61(7): 1285-1293

ISSN/ISBN: 0706-652X

DOI: 10.1139/f04-065

Dreissenid mussels have been exceptionally successful invaders in North American lakes and rivers, especially in the lower Laurentian Great Lakes. As benthic filter feeders capable of attaching to hard substrates, the magnitudes of their biomass and filtering activity in nearshore waters are without precedent. The dreissenid colonization has implications for the removal and fate of materials filtered from the water by the mussels and for the longer-term development of the nearshore benthic community and lake ecosystem. A conceptual model, the nearshore shunt, seeks to describe a fundamental redirection of nutrient and energy flow consequent to dreissenid establishment. The model explains some emergent problems in the Great Lakes, such as reemergence of Cladophora in some coastal zones while offshore P concentrations remain low, and highlights areas in need of more research. The source of particulate nutrient inputs to dreissenids and the fate of materials exported from the benthic community are critical to understanding the role of dreissenids in the lakes and assessing the applicability of current models for managing nutrients and fisheries. The nearshore shunt would require even more stringent P management for lakes strongly impacted by dreissenids to maintain nearshore water quality.

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Accession: 004358573

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