, Volume 755, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Lowhead dams and the downstream dispersal of zebra mussels

  • Benjamin R. Smith
  • David R. Edds
  • Jason M. Goeckler
Primary Research Paper


In rivers of the upper Neosho basin, Kansas, USA, lowhead dams influence the downstream dispersal of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha). We quantified density of planktonic zebra mussel larvae and abundance of recruited individuals at 13 sites in this river–reservoir system to examine potential effects of four lowhead dams on dispersal dynamics of this invasive species. Density and abundance declined downstream from reservoir sources but repeatedly increased at sites inundated by lowhead dams compared to free-flowing areas, with colonization extending 189 river-km. The pattern of zebra mussel dispersal in these rivers is best described by the downstream-march model, with lowhead dams acting as stepping stones. Even though these zebra mussel populations are likely not self-recruiting behind lowhead dams, reproduction at these dams could lead to recruitment downstream. Thus, in rivers with lowhead dams, control of zebra mussel metapopulations may not be accomplished solely by limiting source–sink dynamics from upstream infested lakes.


Aquatic Invasive Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha Dispersal Dam River 



Funding for this project was provided by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Aquatic Nuisance Species Program, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service through the Kansas Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan Grant. We thank Emporia State University for providing a Graduate Student Research Grant to B. Smith and a Faculty Research and Creativity Grant to D. Edds. We thank S. Delmott, D. McCullough, and N. Holoubek for assistance in the field, D. Moore for advice on study design, B. Thomas for lab space, and M. Sundberg for microscopy training.

Conflict of interest

All of the attributed authors of this article contributed significantly to the development of this article. Publication of this article would not implicate any conflict of interest to any of the attributed authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin R. Smith
    • 1
  • David R. Edds
    • 1
  • Jason M. Goeckler
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesEmporia State UniversityEmporiaUSA
  2. 2.Emporia Research and Survey OfficeKansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and TourismEmporiaUSA

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