Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Donna Kashian


Dreissenid mussels (Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis) have rapidly become widespread and ubiquitous in North America since their introduction into the Great Lakes in the 1980s. The resulting environmental and economic impacts of their invasion have been extensive, negatively affecting biodiversity and costing millions of dollars in control efforts and damage to power generation and water treatment facilities. Although dreissenids are often associated with negative impacts, they may present a practical tool for toxicology studies. The typically sessile behavior of the benthic adults coupled with the planktonic nature of the veligers allow for a more complete evaluation of water quality than previous single species toxicity tests that focus on a single life history stage. Both Dreissenid veliger and adults are relatively easy to collect and maintain in the laboratory, making them useful test organisms for toxicological studies. Current bioassays used to evaluate contaminants typically utilize only the adult stage of a single species. I developed novel acute and chronic bioassays for the veliger stage of dreissenid mussels to evaluate several firefighting foam formulations commonly applied to structural and forest fires: Chemguard First Class, Phoschek First Response, and Phoschek WD881. Toxicity assays using veligers were conducted in 96-well microtiter plates and compared with adults exposed to the same concentrations in 50 mL vials. Adult spawning intensity was also quantified as a sublethal measure of toxicity. Results show veliger stage dreissenids to be significantly more sensitive to these chemicals than their adult counterparts (p<0.01). Each firefighting foam formulation had a significantly different effect on survival time for acute veliger trials (p<0.01). Chemguard caused acute veliger mortality significantly faster than either of the other two chemicals on average (p<0.05), while overall mortality for Phoschek WD881 and Phoschek First Response did not differ significantly (p>0.05). Chronic veliger assays also showed Chemguard to cause the fastest mortality of the three formulas at (p<0.05). Chemguard mortality was higher in acute adult assays compared to Phoschek First Response (p<0.05). Chronic adult exposure of these formulas had no significant effect on mortality or spawning intensity.