Trillions of the invasive quagga mussel now cover most of the bottom of Lake Michigan, and their prolific water-filtering abilities have completely changed the food web—with ramifications for the tiniest creatures on the lake bottom to big fish at the top of the food chain to water birds. In this video, Joe Vandermeulen, founder of, explores those dramatic changes with Dr. Harvey Bootsma, from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

For the past decade, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and the National Park Service have been researching the causes of botulism poisoning in birds along the shores of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore park. Leading this team is Dr. Harvey Bootsma, a marine biologist and limnologist who has studied aquatic food webs and nutrient dynamics for more than 20 years.

In this video, Vandermeulen interviews Bootsma about the work he and his team are doing to better understand how quagga mussels are disrupting nutrient cycling through the food web of Lake Michigan.

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Photo(s) by Carol Linteau