Eurasian zebra and quagga mussels were likely introduced to the Laurentian Great Lakes via ballast water release in the 1980s, and their range has since expanded across the US, including some of their southernmost occurrences in Texas. Their spread into the state has resulted in a need to revise previous delimitations of suitable dreissenid habitat. We therefore assessed invasion risk in Texas by 1) predicting distribution of suitable habitat of zebra and quagga mussels using Maxent species distribution models based upon global occurrence and climate data; and 2) refining lake-specific predictions via collection and analysis of physicochemical data. Maxent models predicted a lack of suitable habitat for quagga mussels within Texas. However, models did predict the presence of suitable zebra mussel habitat, with hotspots of suitable habitat occurring along the Red and Sabine Rivers of north and east Texas, as well as patches of suitable habitat in central Texas between the Colorado and Brazos Rivers and extending inland along the Gulf Coast. Although predicted suitable habitat extended further west than in previous models, most of the Texas panhandle, west Texas extending toward El Paso, and the Rio Grande valley were predicted to provide poor zebra mussel habitat suitability. Collection of physicochemical data (i.e., dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, and temperature on-site as well as laboratory analysis for Ca, N, and P) from zebra mussel-invaded lakes and a subset of uninvaded but high-risk lakes of North and Central Texas, did not refine model predictions because there was no apparent distinction between invaded and uninvaded lakes. Overall, we demonstrated that while quagga mussels do not appear to represent an invasive threat in Texas, abundant suitable habitat for continuing zebra mussel invasion exists within the state. The threat of continued expansion of this poster-child for negative invasive species impacts warrants further prevention efforts, management, and research.
- Species distribution model
- Zebra and quagga mussels