Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Bowman Cutter

Reader 2

Marc Los Huertos

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© 2021 Kristina M Linder


Since their discovery in 1988, zebra mussels have colonized bodies of water across the United States. Having ecological and economic implications, zebra mussels have made noticeable changes in the lakes they inhabit. One of these specific impacts is altered lake water clarity.

Using data collected by agencies and monitoring programs, this research utilizes regression analysis to examine factors impacting water clarity, and to see how zebra mussels work in conjunction with these factors. The analysis indicates that zebra mussel growth and precipitation have a positive relationship with increased water clarity, while air temperature has a negative relationship with water clarity. The results also suggest that natural and developed land use are associated with higher water clarity than agricultural land use.

The analysis of how zebra mussel growth interacts with land use to impact water clarity indicates that mussel growth has the strongest positive relationship to increased water clarity in agricultural areas. The investigation of how zebra mussel growth interacts with climate to impact water clarity suggests that zebra mussel growth is more strongly associated with increased water clarity in mild to cool watersheds and watersheds with average to low precipitation levels.

This thesis expands the knowledge of zebra mussels’ effects on water clarity in Minnesota lakes. Additionally, it helps fill the gap in research of how zebra mussels’ interaction with land use and climate alters their impact on water clarity. This is especially important today in the context of climate change.