• facilitation;
  • invertebrate communities;
  • soft sediments;
  • zebra mussels


1. We examined the effect of zebra mussel colonisation on invertebrate communities inhabiting soft sediments in two bays along the Vermont shoreline of Lake Champlain, U.S.A.

2. In summer 2001, we conducted manipulative experiments (addition and removal of zebra mussel colonies) with respective controls to assess the effect of colonies on invertebrate abundance, richness, and position within sediments (within colony versus underlying colony) and compared these data to comparative studies of natural communities in summer 2002.

3. Split core samples were taken two months after the manipulation and the following year so that we could quantify individuals and species inhabiting zebra mussel colonies separately from those in sediments underlying zebra mussel colonies and adjacent sediments lacking zebra mussels.

4. Zebra mussel-covered sediments supported more abundant and richer invertebrate communities than adjacent sediments lacking zebra mussels.

5. Abundance and richness patterns in zebra mussel-addition and removal treatments closely paralleled those in natural communities.

6. Despite severe oxygen depletion at the interface of underlying sediments and overlying zebra mussel colonies, most infaunal invertebrates responded positively to zebra mussel colonisation either by remaining in sediments underlying zebra mussel colonies or by migrating into zebra mussel colonies.