|MadSci Network: Environment/Ecology|
Your question stumped me - so I have consulted with another expert, who posted the answer you see below. "Zebra mussels are a problem in Europe as well; however, they have lived with them so long that you don't hear anything special about it. Further considerations: 1. In the UK, mussel densities in most places are much lower than the very high densities found in many other places. Possibly because of chemical differences in the water, so they are generally not as much of a problem in the UK. 2. Zebra mussels spread in Europe before and during the beginnings of the industrial revolution and before the building of electric power plants. Therefore, when these structures were built, their designs already took into account the presence of biofouling animals (e.g. designs with dual water inlets so that one could be shut down for cleaning; designs for chemical treatments, heat treatments, etc.). Zebra mussels were particularly a problem in the US because we never had such a bad biofouling organism in freshwater environments before, so physical plants had to be retrofitted at great cost. This process is still going on. 3. Ecologically, zebra mussels long ago had their impacts in Europe. Perhaps this explains why there are are less than 10 unionid mussel species in Europe, while the US has (had?) over 80 unionid species, many of which may be headed for extinction because of the zebra mussel." Dr. Jeffrey L. Ram Department of Physiology Wayne State University Detroit, Michigan, USA
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