Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 1157–1175 | Cite as

Low dissolved ions may limit secondary invasion of inland waters by exotic round gobies and dreissenid mussels in North America

  • Brad S. Baldwin
  • Matthew Carpenter
  • Kristin Rury
  • Erin Woodward
Original Paper


Round gobies and dreissenid mussels, exotic species in the North American Great Lakes basin, are euryhaline organisms whose geographic spread and ecological impacts in freshwaters may be limited by low levels of dissolved ions such as calcium (Ca). We measured source populations of these exotics in the St. Lawrence River and found population densities of dreissenids (range of ~1,000–6,400 individuals m−2) and round gobies (6–32 individuals m−2) similar to those in other Great Lake locations from which they have spread inland. However, we found little evidence for their secondary invasion of inland tributary rivers and lakes of northern New York State. Using natural waters collected from inland ecosystems, we ran laboratory bioassays of reproduction, growth, and survival of several life stages of zebra and quagga mussels as well as the round goby. We found little difference in the responses of zebra and quagga mussels, with each species showing moderate reproductive success, growth, and survival at Ca concentrations > 13 mg L−1 and dramatic improvements at >18 mg L−1. Round gobies showed moderate survival in waters with Ca concentrations > 8 mg L−1 and high survival > 18 mg L−1. These bioassays are the first such experiments for quagga mussels and round gobies and show how all three species may be similarly restricted in their ability to invade and permanently colonize significant geographic regions of New York State and perhaps the US.


Secondary invasion Round goby Zebra mussel Quagga mussel Specific conductivity Inland waters 



We thank Dr. Michael Schuckers for help with statistical analyses, Carol Cady for help preparing Fig. 1, and Doug Brown, John Ashley, Adam Caswell and Jim Yaeger for assistance with scuba surveys. We are also grateful for access to data on surface water chemistry, shared by Dr. Scott Kisbaugh (NYSDEC Division of Water) and Dr. James McKenna (USGS Great Lakes Science Center). We also thank M. Kornis and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. This research was supported by an A. C. Walker Foundation North Country Research Fellowship, a grant from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education fund, and additional financial assistance from St. Lawrence University. The US Environmental Protection Agency did not fund or manage the research described here. It has not been subject to Agency review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency. No official endorsement should be inferred.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brad S. Baldwin
    • 1
  • Matthew Carpenter
    • 1
  • Kristin Rury
    • 2
  • Erin Woodward
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologySt. Lawrence UniversityCantonUSA
  2. 2.Health Effects DivisionEnvironmental Protection AgencyWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Rodeph Sholom SchoolNew YorkUSA

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