Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Dispersal of Corbicula fluminea: factors influencing the invasive clam's drifting behavior.

Abstract

Corbicula fluminea, is one of the most successful invasive species in fresh and brackish waters. Dispersal is one of the most determinant steps in the invasive process, and the full understanding of the mechanisms involved in this step is critical for adequate pest management both in the wild and in industries affected by this species' biofouling activity. A mucous drogue line produced by mucocytes packed along the inner demibranchs of the clams' gills seem to play an important role in assisting drifting and hence dispersal. Two Asian clam populations geographically separated (one in the USA and the other in Portugal), investigated at different times of the year, were reported to differ in terms of mucous drogue line production and floating. In this study, genetics and seasonality effects were hypothesized to explain the difference between the populations. To test these hypotheses, the two populations were genetically compared, and the Portuguese one was followed for 14 months to record the animals' mucous drogue line production and flotation capabilities and locate the population reproductive periods. Our results signal a possible scenario of microevolution with consequences on the production of the clams' mucilaginous drogue line. Although some authors advocate a link between mucous threads formation and reproduction events, such a relationship was not observed in this study. By contributing to the understanding of a physiological trait of the Asian clam that is important for dispersal, this study may be of practical relevance for pest monitoring and control.