1Natural History Museum Vienna, Geological-Paleontological Department, Vienna, Austria
2State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Rosenstein, Stuttgart, Germany
3University of Graz, Institute of Earth Sciences, Graz, Austria
4Justus Liebig University Giessen, Institute of Animal Ecology & Systematics, Giessen, Germany
Abstract. Human induced range expansions of invasive dreissenid bivalves are of great concern. However, the underlying biological processes are only poorly understood, partly due to the lack of information on natural expansion events. Here we use the extinct bivalve species Sinucongeria primiformis as a model organism for testing natural (i.e. pre-Anthropocene) blooms of dreissenid species in a lacustrine system of Lake Pannon during the Tortonian (~ 10.5 Myr; late Miocene). A total of 600 samples from a consecutive core were evaluated for the relative abundance of this pavement-forming mollusc, which cover about eight millennia of late Miocene time with a decadal resolution.
Our data indicate that the settlement by bivalves in the offshore environment was limited mainly by bottom water oxygenation, which follows predictable and repetitive patterns through time. These population fluctuations might be related to solar cycles: successful dreissenid settlement is recurring in a frequency known as the lower and upper Gleissberg cycles with 50–80 and 90–120 yr periods. These cycles appear to control regional wind patterns, which are directly linked to water mixing of the lake. This is modulated by the even more prominent 500 yr cycle, which seems to be the most important pacemaker for Lake Pannon hydrology.