Date of Award

Summer 2002

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Maki, James

Second Advisor

Anderson, James

Third Advisor

Courtright, James


The European mollusk Dreissena polymorpha, also known as the zebra mussel, rapidly became a major fouling nuisance in North American fresh waters, since its introduction to the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s by transatlantic ships discharging their ballast water. The literature contains numerous examples of marine invertebrate larvae using environmental cues to determine where to attach. These cues can be chemical and/or physical factors. Chemical factors can be produced by other species (associative cues) or by members of the same species (conspecific cues). The biological factors involved in the attachment of zebra mussels to surfaces have not been extensively studied. The purpose of the research was to examine whether biofilms provide larval and adult zebra mussels with information on where to attach, i.e., associative cues. Field research was performed in the Greenfield Slip located in the inner harbor of Milwaukee, WI and examined the effects of natural biofilms on the attachment of zebra mussel postveligers. Biofilms were developed on glass and polycarbonate surfaces in the field using a 100 μm mesh, which limited the attachment ofmacroorganisms but allowed microorganisms, such as bacteria and algae, to attach. The attachment of postveligers to initially filmed and initially clean surfaces was compared. The results indicated that postveligers could use associative cues from biofilms on some (polycarbonate), but not all (glass), surfaces when determining where to attach. The results did not indicate that larval conspecific cues were influencing postveliger attachment. Also, initial substratum wettability was not detected to be a factor in the attachment of postveligers...



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