Inland lakes in Michigan that have been invaded by zebra mussels, an exotic species that has plagued bodies of water in several states since the 1980s, have higher levels of algae that produce a toxin that can be harmful to humans and animals, according to a Michigan State University researcher.
In a paper published in the recent issue of Limnology and Oceanography, Orlando “Ace” Sarnelle, an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and colleagues report that lakes that are home to zebra mussels have, on average, three times higher levels of a species of blue-green algae known as Microcystis.
Those same lakes also have about two times higher levels of microcystins, a toxin produced by the algae.
“If these blooms of blue-green algae are a common side effect of zebra mussel invasion, then hard-fought gains in the restoration of water quality may be undone,” Sarnelle said. “Right now, it appears that the numbers of blooms in Michigan have been increasing and appear to be correlated with the spread of zebra mussels.”
Source: Michigan State a university