Understanding the complex dynamics of zebra mussel invasions over several decades in European rivers: drivers, impacts and predictions

Phillip J. Haubrock, Ismael Soto, Melina Kourantidou, Danish A. Ahmed, Ali Serhan Tarkan, Paride Balzani, Kirsti Bego, Antonín Kouba, Sadi Aksu, Elizabeta Briski, Francisco Sylvester, Vanessa De Santis, Gaït Archambaud-Suard, Núria Bonada, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, Zoltán Csabai, Thibault Datry, Mathieu Floury, Jean-François Fruget, John Iwan JonesMarie-Helene Lizee, Anthony Maire, John F. Murphy, Davis Ozolins, Jes Jessen Rasmussen, Agnija Skuja, Gábor Várbíró, Piet Verdonschot, Ralf C. M. Verdonschot, Peter Wiberg‑Larsen, Ross N. Cuthbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha is one of the most successful, notorious, and detrimental aquatic invasive non-native species worldwide, having invaded Europe and North America while causing substantial ecological and socio-economic impacts. Here, we investigated the spatiotemporal trends in this species' invasion success using 178 macroinvertebrate abundance time series, containing 1451 records of D. polymorpha collected across nine European countries between 1972–2019. Using these raw (absolute) abundance data, we examined trends and drivers of occurrences and relative abundances of D. polymorpha within invaded communities. Meta-regression models revealed non-significant trends both at the European level and for the majority of the invaded countries, except for France (significant decreasing trend) and Hungary (marginally positive trend). At the European level, the number of D. polymorpha occurrences over time followed a flat-top bell-shaped distribution, with a steep increase between 1973–1989 followed by a plateau phase prior to significantly declining post-1998. Using a series of climatic and hydromorphological site-specific characteristics of invaded and uninvaded sites from two periods (1998–2002; 2011–2015), we found that native richness, non-native abundance, distance to the next barrier, and elevation were associated with the occurrence of D. polymorpha. We also found that higher native richness and lower latitude were related to lower relative abundances. Using Cohen's D as a measure of D. polymorpha impact, we found that biodiversity within the invaded sites was initially higher than in uninvaded ones, but then declined, suggesting differences in biodiversity trends across invaded and uninvaded sites. While our results emphasise the high invasion success of D. polymorpha, increasing stressors within the context of global change – particularly ongoing climate change – are likely to enhance invasion rates and the impact of D. polymorpha in the near future, exacerbated by the lack of timely and effective management actions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10283
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2024


  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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