Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Establishment of Corbicula fluminea (O.F. Müller, 1774) in Lake Maggiore: a spatial approach to trace the invasion dynamics.

Abstract

We analysed the dynamics of the invasive Asian basket clam Corbicula fluminea in Lake Maggiore (Italy), recorded for the first time in August 2010. In order to reveal the extent of its dispersal, we monitored 30 locations along the lake for presence/absence of clams. This assessment of population structure, density and biomass is based on quantitative samples collected along the southern shoreline at four sites with diverse types of habitats. In the present study, the on-going process of Corbicula invasion was analysed from a spatial and temporal perspective. We compared density and size structure of the population among the sites (spatial distribution). We attempted to trace the colonization dynamics of the clams, so the invasion dynamics were tentatively reconstructed from spatial distribution of size /age groups and the contribution of the last recruited cohort to total population density along the lake littoral zone. Results from our surveys conducted in 2010-2011 have demonstrated that the Asian clam was well-established in the lake, thus about one-third of the lake (i.e. the southern basin) was already colonized by C. fluminea in 2011. Size frequency distribution in autumn 2011 further illustrated reproduction events and new recruitments. Population densities in Lake Maggiore were among the highest ever recorded in an Italian lake. Both the rapid spread of Corbicula in the littoral area and the relatively high densities, even at the most recently invaded sites, infer the potential ecosystem impacts associated with a dominant invasive species. Data reported here are not intended to be exhaustive since they concern only two years of investigations, so more detailed studies on both the ecology and invasive habits of this new alien species in Lake Maggiore are planned. The spatial approach used in the present study may clarify the dynamics of this invasion. Future monitoring might help us to disentangle the effects of spatial variability versus temporal succession during the establishment of the invasive species.