Marcella Dawson E-mail
Subject: Life Science Topic: Mollusks
June, 1996

Zebra Mussel


Mussel Bound: The Zebra Mussel Invasion

DIRECTIONS:In this lesson you will research how an invading organism (the zebra mussel) aggressively inhabits new environments. The zebra mussel is an environmental hazard to native aquatic species.

There are ten questions. The answers are available by going to the specified links which appear in a color different from the text. Click on the maroon word; the new information will appear in the empty frame at the bottom of the monitor screen.

Record your information on index cards or paper.


1. Describe the characteristics of a zebra mussel shell. Is it a bivalve or a univalve? Is it a gastropod or a cephalopod ?

2. Approximately how many eggs does a female zebra mussel produce per year?

3. Draw a diagram that shows the development of a zebra mussel larvae, or veliger.

4. How do zebra mussels attach themselves to hard surfaces?

5. Link to the page that shows the spread of zebra mussels.

U.S. Distribution Maps : click Distribution and scroll down to U.S. Distribution Maps Click on each year to obtain a map that shows the annual distribution and spread. Use a different map color for each year. Draw the information for each year on your map.

6. Label the major rivers and bodies of water.

7. Analyze the map and explain what you think influences the directions the zebra mussel spreads.

8. Where did the mussel come from and how did it get to North America?

9. What are the major ways in which the mussel is being spread in North America?

10. Use geometric progression or formulas for exponential growth to calculate how many offspring from one male and one female zebra mussel would exist in an area after three years. Assume that the female lays 1,000,000 eggs per year and all of the larvae survive.

11. Play the Web of Life Game with your class discuss the following issues.

Discussion of Issues:

1. In your opinion, what would be the best way(s) to control further migration of the zebra mussel.

2. What are some other organisms that have spread into North America in recent years?

3. Describe the environmental influences that cause the zebra mussel to spawn so effectively.

4. Do you suppose the zebra mussel will be found along the Gulf Coast of Texas in the near future?

Predict the river - route the mussel will most likely follow to invade the area in which you live.

5. Develop a one minute commercial which will alert the people living in our community to the impending zebra mussel invasion.




These pages authored and maintained by Marcella Dawson. Revised 06/23/99. Copyright 1995 CRPC GirlTECH. All rights reserved. . Email your comments. These pages were developed through GirlTECH '96, a teacher training and student technology council program sponsored by the Center for Research on Parallel Computation (CRPC), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center.