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Wednesday, January 27 • 11:20am - 11:40am
Zebra Mussels: The Artery of Contamination

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AUTHORS: Keith terHorst*, Nick Pierce

ABSTRACT: In order to decipher why so many of our great lakes waterfowl are succumbing to the infection of Type E avian botulism, we built a system model to assess what sort of connections create this oscillating phenomenon. Through our research, we discovered that botulism outbreaks and the correlating mass extermination of waterfowl do not happen every year. These outbreaks are highly dependent on temperature and the effectiveness in the filter-feeding of zebra and quagga mussels. When spring weather is unseasonably warm and water levels are low, a boom in algae growth increases the prevalence of botulism in the native Cladophora algae species, which is then contracted at an astounding rate by our established invasive dreissenid population and passed on to the round goby. This process displayed an inevitable crash in the great lakes waterfowl population if such processes continue, which looks eminently possible with climate change increasing average temperatures around the globe.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 11:20am - 11:40am EST