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Definition of ZEBRA MUSSEL
: a chiefly freshwater Eurasian lamellibranch mollusk (Dreissena polymorpha) that was accidentally introduced into the Great Lakes and has spread to other waterways where it colonizes and clogs water intake pipes and competes with native fish for food
First Known Use of ZEBRA MUSSEL
Either of two species of tiny mussels (genus Dreissena) that are prominent freshwater pests. They proliferate quickly and adhere in great numbers to virtually any surface. The voracious mussels disrupt food webs by wiping out phytoplankton, and their massive clustering on water-intake valves and pipes, bridge abutments, and other structures can cause severe commercial damage. They made their first known attack on Europe in the early 19th century and were carried (probably in ship water ballasts) to North America c. 1986; their invasion of all the Great Lakes has had devastating effects on the lakes' native mussel and fish populations.