Potential impacts of the invasive species Corbicula fluminea on the survival of glochidia.
Freshwater mussels (Bivalvia, Unionida) are one of the most imperilled faunal groups globally, being the introduction of invasive species a possible major mechanism of threat. The Asian clam Corbicula fluminea is a problematic invasive species in aquatic ecosystems and can impair the survival of parasitic larvae (glochidia) of native freshwater mussels. However, this possible mechanism of threat remains speculative and to date very few studies addressed quantitatively this issue. In order to cover this gap, we have performed a series of manipulative laboratory studies to assess how distinct densities of C. fluminea can affect the survival of glochidia after 6, 12, 24 and 48 h of exposure, using larvae of the native freshwater mussel Anodonta anatina. Our results suggest an increase in mortality of A. anatina glochidia with an increase in density of C. fluminea. Two main mechanisms may possibly explain our results: (1) the high filtration capacity of C. fluminea that can contribute to the mortality of glochidia due to the mechanical damage of their fragile shells when passing by siphons and/or digestive tract of C. fluminea and (2) the high excretion capacity of C. fluminea that can lead to mortality of glochidia due to increase in ammonia concentration. Mortality of glochidia was also time dependent with higher values registered after 48 h. This work is one of the first showing the influence of C. fluminea density on the survival of glochidia, being filtration (and consequent passage in the digestive tract) and biodeposition the main potential mechanisms explaining overall mortality. These results also suggest that sites with high densities of C. fluminea may be highly detrimental for the conservation of freshwater mussels, potentially impairing the survival of glochidia and negatively affecting the recruitment of juveniles.