Zebra mussel

Wandering mussel; scientific name: Dreissena polymorpha
Zebra mussel
Photo: UPB-Projektgruppe Trier

Common mussel species as invasive animal in rivers and lakes with high information level for water pollution

The zebra mussel is a sedentary inhabitant of slow-flowing and stagnant waters, where it filters vegetable and animal microorganisms. As a consequence, it is exposed to hazardous substances, whether in solution or particulate suspension and, therefore, useful in active biomonitoring and in toxicity and impact tests. To ensure quantitative availability, easy access and improved reproducibility, an exposure system has been developed using uncontaminated breeding sites which can be colonized by larvae until adulthood.

The entire soft body is used as a specimen. Sampling takes place yearly between September and late November, preferably after final spawning.

Guideline for Sampling and Sample Processing Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

Target organs/Matrices

Soft body The soft body of the mussel enriches the filtrated substances. It consists of muscles and inner organs.

Sampling area

Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Bornhöveder Seengebiet Main water divide between the North- and Baltic Sea
Rhein Longest river in Germany
Elbe Fourth largest river basin in Central Europe
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany
Donau Second largest river in Europe


Metals Eighty percent of all elements on earth are metals
Nonmetals Only eighteen elements in the periodic table
Organometallic compounds Organic substances with at least one metall atom
Chlorohydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least one covalently bonded chlorine atom
DDT and metabolites Toxic and persistent organochloropesticide
Hexachlorocyclohexane Several isomeric compounds among the group of chlorinated hydrocarbons
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least three condensed six-membered rings
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds Organic compounds which are fully (per-) or partially (poly-) fluorinated
Stable Isotopes Atoms of one element with different weights
Flame Retardants Flame retardants reduce the flammability of objects
Supplementary parameters Additional information for the interpretation of contamination data

Sampling period

1994 - 2018

Biometric parameters

Shell weight  

Extended information

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