Zebra Mussels Altering Seneca Lake Ecology – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Zebra Mussels Altering Seneca Lake Ecology

HWS researchers present findings on how invasive zebra and quagga mussels are changing the ecology of Seneca Lake.

(June 13, 2003) GENEVA, N.Y. – In the early 1990s, zebra mussels were introduced into Seneca Lake, followed by the introduction of a close relative, the quagga mussel. Both species have become well established in the lake and have resulted in a number of significant changes in the lake—such as increased water clarity. But, little is known about how these exotic species might be affecting other organisms in the lake.

A biology professor and two students from Hobart and William Smith Colleges recently set out to learn more about the impact these species are having. The result of their research was presented at the annual meeting of the North American Benthological Society meetings in Athens, Georgia held May 27-31. More than 800 freshwater ecologists, from every continent, attended this year’s meeting.

Seniors Jessica Werder and David Costello and Biology Professor Brian Shelley conducted the research while working on Colleges’ research ship, the HWS William Scandling. This research involved sampling at 24 transects covering the entire shallow water margins of the lake, reaching depths up to 80 meters. In addition to generating maps illustrating the distribution of mussels and plants in the lake, the project will provide valuable insight into various ways in which exotic mussels influence other benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms. This information is necessary to evaluate fully the long-term impacts on the Seneca Lake ecosystem.

The students conducted their research as part of the Hobart and William Smith summer research programs, with funds provided by grants from the Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program and the Perkin Fund.

Researchers’ Background:
Costello, the son of Matthew and Frances Costello of Gasport, N.Y., is majoring in biology with a minor in environmental studies. Costello is a Dean’s Scholar and has also participated in Day of Service and Orientation. This summer, Costello is working as an intern at the Roswell Cancer Center in Buffalo. His future plans include a career in medicine.

 Werder, the daughter of John and Judy Werder of Springwater, N.Y., is a biology major with a minor in public policy. She is a member of Laurel Society, the honor society for juniors, and has served on Judicial Board and participated in Day of Service. Werder is spending the summer working at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. After graduating, she plans to attend graduate or professional school.

Professor Shelley came to Hobart and William Smith in 2000. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He has conducted research on aquatic ecology of plants and benthic invertebrates in Costa Rica and the Northeastern United States.