Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Modelling the risk posed by the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha: Italy as a case study.

Abstract

We generated a risk map to forecast the potential effects of the spreading of zebra mussels Dreissena polymorpha across the Italian territory. We assessed the invader's potential impact on rivers, lakes, watersheds and dams at a fine-grained scale and detected those more at risk that should be targeted with appropriate monitoring. We developed a MaxEnt model and employed weighted overlay analyses to detect the species' potential distribution and generate risk maps for Italy. D. polymorpha has a greater probability of occurring at low to medium altitudes in areas characterised by fluviatile deposits of major streams. Northern and central Italy appear more at risk. Some hydroelectric power dams are at high risk, while most dams for irrigation, drinkable water reservoirs and other dam types are at medium to low risk. The lakes and rivers reaches (representing likely expansion pathways) at medium-high or high risk mostly occur in northern and central Italy. We highlight the importance of modelling potential invasions on a country scale to achieve the sufficient resolution needed to develop appropriate monitoring plans and prevent the invader's harmful effects. Further high-resolution risk maps are needed for other regions partly or not yet colonised by the zebra mussel.