Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Arcuatula senhousia
(Asian date mussel)



Arcuatula senhousia (Asian date mussel)


  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Arcuatula senhousia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Asian date mussel
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Mollusca
  •       Class: Bivalvia
  •         Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. senhousia is a small mussel, populations of which aggregate and produce dense and extensive mats on the bottom of shallow coastal water areas. It is a fouling organism, which is adapted to a variety of habitat...

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External view of shell.
CaptionExternal view of shell.
CopyrightArgyro Zenetos
External view of shell.
ShellExternal view of shell.Argyro Zenetos


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Arcuatula senhousia (Benson in Cantor, 1842)

Preferred Common Name

  • Asian date mussel

Other Scientific Names

  • Brachidontes (Arcuatula) senhousia Kira, 1959
  • Brachidontes (Musculista) senhousia Kira, 1962
  • Brachidontes aquarius Grabau and King, 1928
  • Modiola (Arcuatula) arcuatula Hanley, 1844
  • Modiola bellardiana Tapparone-Canefri, 1874
  • Modiola senhausii Reeve, 1857
  • Modiola senhousia Benson in Cantor, 1842
  • Modiolus senhausia Morton, 1974
  • Modiolus senhousei Hanna, 1966
  • Musculista senhousia (Benson in Cantor, 1842)
  • Musculus (Musculista) senhousia Yamamoto and Habe, 1958
  • Volsella senhausi Smith, 1944

International Common Names

  • English: green mussel

Local Common Names

  • : Asian mussel; bag mussel; cuckoo mussel; East Asian bag mussel; green bagmussel; Japanese mussel; Senhouse's mussel
  • Japan: hototogishu-gai

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. senhousia is a small mussel, populations of which aggregate and produce dense and extensive mats on the bottom of shallow coastal water areas. It is a fouling organism, which is adapted to a variety of habitats, and fits the classical concept of an opportunist: it has a long planktonic dispersal stage, exhibits rapid growth, has a small and variable body size, high fecundity, and a short life span (Zenetos et al., 2004). Its good dispersal ability in both its native region and in regions to which it has been introduced makes it a successful invader (Creese et al., 1997; NIMPIS, 2002).

The life history characteristics of this species make it potentially able to dominate benthic communities, by changing both the local physical environment and the resident macroinvertebrate assemblage, for periods of time not exceeding a two-year span (ISSG, 2007).


Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Mollusca
  •             Class: Bivalvia
  •                 Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  •                     Order: Mytiloida
  •                         Unknown: Mytiloidea
  •                             Family: Mytilidae
  •                                 Genus: Arcuatula
  •                                     Species: Arcuatula senhousia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Arcuatula senhousia (Benson in Cantor, 1842) is a bivalve mollusc and belongs to the genus Arcuatula of the family Mytilidae, order Mytiloida, of the subclass Pteriomorphia.


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A. senhousia is a small olive-green, yellow-green or greenish-brown mussel, which grows to a maximum length of 35 mm. Its usual size is 10-25 mm long and up to 12 mm wide. Its shell is thin, smooth, equivalve, elongate oval in shape, with a shiny periostracum and no hinge teeth inside the shell valves. Its outline is modioliform, slightly angled with a rounded anterior end. The umbones are subterminal, whereas the ligament and dorsal margins are not continuous. The ventral margin is slightly concave and there are up to 16 pale-purple stripes radiating from the centre of growth out to the hind margin of the shell, mainly on its upper hind diagonal half. Often there are dark purple-brown, wavy or zigzag, concentric lines or arcs surrounding the centre of growth. The interior of the shell is a lustrous purplish-grey often with stripes showing through.

Solitary mussels are usually vertically anchored into a soft substrate and surrounded by well-developed byssus, which is used to construct a cocoon that protects the shell. This cocoon is made up of byssal threads and sediment. With only its posterior end protruding, its siphons can access the water enabling it to feed.

The NIMPIS (2002) database identifies five larval stages of A. senhousia and provides a very detailed description of them. First stage D-shaped larvae have 14-15 teeth with each tooth almost the same height, and a shell length of 70-120 µm. Second stage larval shells have an umbo at the middle portion of the shell, which is ~120 µm. Third stage umbo larvae have an oval shaped shell with a length of 120-300 µm, that has round posterior and pointed anterior margins. The number of teeth in the umbo stage larvae is 18-20 throughout the stage, while the uninterrupted series of teeth becomes smaller with growth in the middle portion than those at both ends. Umbo stage larvae with a shell length of ~200 µm develop a primary ligament pit below the teeth between the post and median teeth. This pit encroaches onto the teeth with growth. Shells of 260 µm or longer observed from the dorsal view have weak indistinct median teeth with a rounded primary ligament visible between post and median teeth.

Post-larval stage (~550 µm) shells increase in length along the postero-ventral margin, which is angular toward the posterior margin, developing an obsolete beginning of a secondary ligament pit behind the posterior teeth. There are three types of lateral teeth, primary being visible on 500 µm shells, with the number increasing with growth: secondary being visible on 1500 µm shells and dysodont visible on 2000 µm shells. The final veliconchia stage shells are triangular-oval, with a pointed and elongated anterior margin bulging markedly. The umbo is high and well-developed and the ratio of length to height and width of valves is 1.6:1.3:1.0. The colouration is cinnamon, more concentrated at the umbo. The pigment spot is small and obscure against the dark background of the shell valves. There are 5-6 large teeth along the margins of the provinculum, and the ligament is posterior and in contrast to other members of the family, shifted much closer to the centre.



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The native range of A. senhousia extends from Siberia to Singapore in the western Pacific (NIMPIS, 2002), and includes Japan, Korea, China, and parts of Indochina (Mastrototaro et al., 2003). Its exotic distribution includes the Pacific Coast of North America (USA, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand, parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and waters off Zanzibar and Madagascar in the West Indian Ocean (NIMPIS, 2002; Mastrototaro et al. 2003; ISSG, 2007).

Along the Pacific coast of North America, A. senhousia was reported in Bolinas Lagoon in 1944 and collected in Elkhorn Slough in 1965. There are no recent records and it no longer appears to be present at either site. In the 1990s, it was taken to Willapa Bay in shipments of Manila clams (Ruditapes philippinarum), but did not become established (Cohen, 2005).

In the northern part of Puget Sound (Samish Bay), A. senhousia was collected on beds of Japanese oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in 1924, but probably did not become established at that time. It was next recorded from Puget Sound in 1959, at Olympia at the southern end of the Sound, and later at other sites in the South Sound (Cohen, 2005).

A. senhousia is very common and widely distributed in San Francisco Bay, ranging from Grizzly and Suisun bays and the mouths of the Napa and Petaluma rivers in the north to the southernmost reaches of the bay, and to near to the mouth of the bay. In Lake Merritt (a shallow, brackish lagoon on the eastern shore of the bay) and in the Oakland Estuary, A. senhousia has occurred in mats that can be pulled up from the bottom in sheets, and as individuals among the fouling on pilings and floats. At Crown Beach in Alameda it is found in individual nests attached to the base of eelgrass plants (Zostera marina). It has been collected at densities of up to 1000-2000 clams per square metre from the South Bay to San Pablo Bay, where it is frequently one of the most abundant benthic organisms (Cohen, 2005).

In the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the species was first recorded from the Israeli coast and in the coasts of Egypt under the name Modiola arcuatula Hanley, 1844. The true Modiola arcuatula is a different species with a very swollen umbonal area; in agreement with Hoenselaar and Hoenselaar (1989) that M. arcuatula sensu Barash and Danin (1971) and sensu Oliver (1992) are A. senhousia. In Egyptian and Israeli records, species accidentally transported from the Red Sea are locally called Arcuatula arcuatula.

A. senhousia is known to be a recent introduction from the western Mediterranean to lagoons along the French coast (Etang de Thau, Balaruc les Bains, Languedoc-Roussillon, Salses-Leucate-Etang de Leucate-Etang d'Or) (Hoenselaar and Hoenselaar, 1989) as well as from the Adriatic Sea (Italy and Slovenia) and as far south as the Italian Ionian (Lazzari and Rinaldi, 1994; Mastrototaro et al., 2003). In 2002, an abundance of shells of A. senhousia were found in the mud of the Great Bitter Lake, Red Sea (Hoffman et al., 2006).

In 2002, A. senhousia was recorded for the first time from the Atlantic coast of France at Arcachon Bay and in the southern Bay of Biscay (Bachelet et al., 2009).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Sea Areas

Atlantic, NortheastLocalisedIntroduced2002 Invasive Bachelet et al., 2009Bay of Biscay
Indian Ocean, EasternLocalisedIntroduced1983 Invasive Slack-Smith and Brearley, 1987
Indian Ocean, WesternPresentIntroducedMastrototaro et al., 2003
Mediterranean and Black SeaLocalisedIntroduced1964Barash and Danin, 1971
Pacific, Eastern CentralWidespreadIntroduced1924 Invasive Carlton, 1979
Pacific, NorthwestWidespreadNativeCSIRO, 2000
Pacific, SouthwestWidespreadIntroduced1978 Invasive Willan, 1985


ChinaLocalisedIntroduced Invasive Allen and Williams, 2003
IsraelPresentIntroduced1964Barash and Danin, 1973Suez Canal
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HokkaidoLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
-HonshuLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
-KyushuLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
-ShikokuLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
Korea, DPRLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
Korea, Republic ofLocalisedNativeCSIRO, 2000
SingaporeLocalisedNativeOBIS, 2006
TurkeyPresentIntroduced2008Uysal et al., 2008Locally established in the Levantine. In the Turkish Aegean since 2009 (Dogan et al., 2014)


EgyptLocalisedIntroduced1964Barash and Danin, 1971Suez Canal
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMastrototaro et al., 2003
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedMastrototaro et al., 2003
-ZanzibarPresentIntroducedMastrototaro et al., 2003
TunisiaPresentIntroduced2004Ben Souissi et al., 2005

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedCohen, 2005
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-CaliforniaWidespreadIntroduced1924 Invasive Carlton, 1979


AlbaniaPresentIntroduced2011Ruci et al., 2014
CroatiaPresentIntroduced2003Crocetta, 2011
FranceLocalisedIntroduced1978 Invasive Hoenselaar and Hoenselaar, 1989; Bachelet et al., 2009Found in lagoons of the Mediterranean coast since 1978; first reported from the Bay of Biscay in 2002
ItalyLocalisedIntroduced1992 Invasive Lazzari and Rinaldi, 1994Invasive in the Adriatic. Elsewhere in Italy locally established.
RomaniaPresentIntroduced2002Micu, 2004
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Russian Far EastPresentNativeCSIRO, 2000
SloveniaPresentIntroduced1997Min and Vio, 1997
SpainPresentIntroduced2002Bachelet et al., 2009


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Australian Northern TerritoryLocalisedIntroduced1983Slack-Smith and Brearley, 1987
-South AustraliaLocalisedIntroduced1983Slack-Smith and Brearley, 1987
-TasmaniaLocalisedIntroduced1995 Invasive Martin et al., 1996
-VictoriaLocalisedIntroduced1983 Invasive Slack-Smith and Brearley, 1987
-Western AustraliaLocalisedIntroduced1983 Invasive Slack-Smith and Brearley, 1987
New ZealandLocalisedIntroduced1978 Invasive Willan, 1985

History of Introduction and Spread

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The first Pacific Coast record of A. senhousia was on oyster beds in Puget Sound (Washington) in 1924, and the first record of an apparently established population was at Tomales Bay (California) in 1941. In both cases it was probably introduced with Japanese oysters (Crassostrea gigas), because it has been collected on oyster shipments arriving in both Washington and California. Oysters were transported to Samish Bay in 1905, in Tomales Bay and Elkhorn Slough in the 1920s, in Bodega Harbour and San Francisco Bay in the 1930s, in Humboldt Bay in the 1950s, and in Estero de Punta Banda by the 1970s, all before A. senhousia was collected at these sites (Cohen, 2005).

The introduction and spread of A. senhousia in California was as follows: Tomales Bay (1941), San Francisco Bay (1946), Mission Bay (1965), Bodega Harbour (1971), San Diego Bay (1976), Newport Bay (1977), Rainbow Lagoon near Long Beach Harbour (2000), Port Hueneme (2000-2001), Los Angeles/Long Beach harbours (2001), and Humboldt Bay, Huntington Harbour, and Oceanside Harbour (2001) (Cohen, 2005). In Baja California, it was collected in 1970 in Papilote Bay near Ensenada and reported from Estero de Punta Banda in 1994 (Cohen, 2005).

A. senhousia was recorded for the first time in the western Mediterranean along the French coast (Mastrototaro et al., 2003). In French lagoons, populations of A. senhousia were probably imported with oysters for farming from Japan around 1978 (Zenetos et al., 2004) and subsequent trade and culture brought them to the Adriatic Sea, with the first recorded specimen in 1993 from Ravenna Lagoon (Mistri et al., 2004). Zenetos et al. (2004) suggests that the Adriatic populations were possibly introduced with the clam Tapes philippinarum [Ruditapes philippinarum], imported in the area for aquaculture in 1986.

In the eastern Mediterranean, A. senhousia was first recorded in Israel (1964 in Tel Aviv, 1968 in Haifa), and was reported in Egypt in 1977 (Zenetos et al., 2004; Cohen, 2005).

In 2002, A. senhousia was recorded for the first time from the Atlantic coast of France at Arcachon Bay in the southern Bay of Biscay. It is thought that its arrival in the region was associated with the movement of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) from Thau Lagoon in the Mediterranean (Bachelet et al., 2009). In 2006, it was also recorded at Hossegor Lake and the Bidasoa estuary (Bachelet et al., 2009). 

In Oceania, A. senhousia was first collected in 1978 from New Zealand. It was successively reported in 1983 from Western Australia, Victoria (1987), and Tasmania (1995) (Cohen, 2005). The mode of introduction was unknown (GWA, 2005), but was thought to have been introduced into Australia and New Zealand via ship fouling, in ships' seawater systems or in ballast water. It was collected from the internal seawater systems of vessels in South Australia in 1988 and northern Australia in 1999 (Cohen, 2005).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Albania Italy  2011 Yes Ruci et al. (2014) Invasive; introduced due to spreading
Australia 1983 Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes Slack-Smith and Brearley (1987) Accidental
Croatia Italy 2004 Yes Crocetta (2011) Established; introduced due to spreading
Egypt 1964 Hitchhiker (pathway cause)Barash and Danin (1971)
France Japan 1978 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes Hoenselaar and Hoenselaar (1989) Accidental
Israel 1964 Hitchhiker (pathway cause)Barash and Danin (1973) Ship/boat hull fouling
Italy France 1993 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes Lazzari and Rinaldi (1994) Accidental
Mexico Hitchhiker (pathway cause)Cohen (2005) Accidental
New Zealand 1978 Hitchhiker (pathway cause) Yes Willan (1985) Accidental
Romania 2002 Micu (2004) Accidental; ship/boat hull fouling
Slovenia 1997 Aquaculture (pathway cause)Min and Vio (1997) Accidental
Spain France 2002 Bachelet et al. (2009) Established
Tasmania 1995 No Martin et al. (1996) Accidental
Tunisia 2004 Ben Souissi et al. (2005) Ship/boat hull fouling
Turkey 2008 Dogan et al. (2014); Uysal et al. (2008) Accidental; ship/boat hull fouling
USA Japan 1924 Aquaculture (pathway cause) Yes Carlton (1979) Accidental

Risk of Introduction

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A two-year study undertaken for the Department of Environment and Heritage (Australia) by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to identify and rank introduced marine species found within Australian waters, identified A. senhousia as a 'medium’ priority species. This was based on the reasonably high impact/invasion potential of this species in the bioregion (ISSG, 2007).


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A. senhousia is an opportunistic species that prefers enclosed intertidal and shallow subtidal flats (to a depth of 20 m) and can be found on soft or hard substrates, and even on wooden jetty piles, seaweeds and manmade structures (GWA, 2005; ISSG, 2007).

Habitat List

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Estuaries Principal habitat Natural
Inland saline areas Principal habitat Natural
Lagoons Principal habitat Natural
Intertidal zone Principal habitat Natural
Inshore marine Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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A. senhousia is short-lived animal that grows rapidly and experiences dramatic population fluctuations (Zenetos et al., 2004). Its growth rate has been reported to be a maximum of 25 mm in 1 year (Crooks, 1996), while its annual growth rate from recruitment is usually 15-20 mm (Creese et al., 1997). Most individuals are annuals, but a small fraction of the population lives for perhaps up to 2 years (Crooks, 1996). Its maximum reported life cycle duration is 730 days (ISSG, 2007).

The larvae can settle on hard surfaces like most mussels, but prefer to settle gregariously on soft substrates (NIMPIS, 2002). This behaviour results in the formation of large colonies, raised several centimetres above the surface of the sand or mud. A. senhousia may build colonies that produce dense mats (Zenetos et al., 2004). It has been found that these mats usually disappear after a couple of years, presumably due to erratic and sporadic recruitment (NIMPIS, 2002). In Western Australia, A. senhousia mats experience significant mortalities between late autumn and early winter. This may be due to the reduced salinity during the rainy season, even though this mussel species is known to be tolerant to low oxygen concentrations and low salinities (GWA, 2005).


The DNA of A. senhousia has been extensively sequenced, for example see the work of Distel (2000).

Reproductive Biology

A. senhousia is a dioecious, oviparous species (NIMPIS, 2002). It is a broadcast spawner, with fertilization occurring in the water column. Spawning time varies within a limited season with males and females spawning at the same time (Zenetos et al., 2004; ISSG, 2007). In the northern hemisphere it reproduces in the summer with larvae being most abundant through autumn and early winter (NIMPIS, 2002). In the Adriatic, A. senhousia spawns from the end of summer to late autumn, and juveniles settle on the bottom during the winter, coinciding with the start of the growing season of pleustophytic macroalgae. These algae, when at relatively low biomass, may facilitate the recruitment of A. senhousia individuals through the entrainments of the larvae (Mistri et al., 2003).

The minimum environmental requirements for reproduction to take place are temperatures of at least 22.5°C and salinities lower than 30 ppt (Inoue and Yamamuro, 2000). In conditions above 28°C and over 30 ppt, reproduction is reduced. In Italy, maximum spawning occurs at temperatures from 25-28°C (Sgro et al., 2002).

A. senhousia matures in approximately 9 months (ISSG, 2007) and individuals larger than 20 mm can spawn, with a single 20 mm long female being able to release as many as 137,000 eggs in the form of granular emissions (Sgro et al., 2002). The eggs are large and agglutinated with their shape resembling white twisted threads. The larvae with a straight hinge margin emerge from these eggs and drift in the water currents for 14 to 55 days (ISSG, 2007). Both the fertilised eggs and the developing larvae are planktonic (GWA, 2005). The larvae are most abundant from August to December (NIMPIS, 2002).


A. senhousia, like most mussels, is a suspension feeder. It lives endo-benthically just below the sediment surface, where it filters phytoplankton from the water column with a short <5 mm) siphon (NIMPIS, 2002; ISSG, 2007).

Environmental Requirements

A. senhousia lives on both hard and soft substrates in intertidal and shallow subtidal zones to 20 m depth and prefers sheltered areas such as lagoons or estuaries (Zenetos et al., 2004). It is reported to be tolerant of low salinity and low oxygen levels. In San Francisco Bay, it has been collected at salinities of 17-33 ppt and temperatures of 17-24°C, and in southern California at 35-37 ppt and 25-27°C (Cohen, 2005).

When sufficiently developed, the spat of A. senhousia, in common with other bag mussels, seem to prefer to settle gregariously on soft substrates unlike many other types of mussels that attach only to hard substrates. The juveniles then burrow vertically down into the sand, leaving only the posterior area protruding, so that the siphons can allow water to flow in and out through the gill chamber (GWA, 2005). Each juvenile mussel then secretes a number of fibrous byssal threads that attach to sand grains and form a bag into which the mussel can retreat. The byssal threads of neighbouring animals tangle the mussels within it. However, if the mussel spat attach to a hard substrate and are surrounded by other organisms, they will not secrete a bag, but instead attach their byssal threads directly to the substrate (GWA, 2005).

A. senhousia has been reported in mats of densities up to 2500 mussels per square metre in Hong Kong, 2600 per square metre in Western Australia, 2800 per square metre in Japan, 3300 per square metre in New Zealand, 8600 per square metre in Mission Bay, 12,400 per square metre in San Diego Bay and 16,000 per square metre in Auckland, New Zealand (Cohen, 2005). The juveniles have been reported to settle on eelgrass at densities of 28,650 per square metre and on synthetic line at 126,000 per square metre; later they drop off these substrates to settle in mats on the bottom (Cohen, 2005).

The life span of the mat is determined by the longevity of the mussels; there is no apparent maintenance of existing mats by recruitment (Creese et al., 1997).  


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Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) Optimum 1–3 (NIMPIS, 2002)
Salinity (part per thousand) Optimum 18–35.5 tolerated (NIMPIS, 2002)
Water pH (pH) 7.7 7.8 Optimum (NIMPIS, 2002)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) Optimum 0.8–31.1 tolerated (NIMPIS, 2002)

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The wide range of animals that compete with or prey on A. senhousia is reported in the literature. Competitors of the adult form of A. senhousia include the species Xenostrobus securis, Notospisula trigonella, Soletellina biradiata, Arthritica semaen, Fluviolanatus suborta,Xenstrobus pulex, Perna canaliculus, Solen rostriformis and Chione fluctifraga (NIMPIS, 2002). The larval forms of Mytilus edulis and Crenomytilus gravanus are also known to compete with larvae of A. senhousia (NIMPIS, 2002).

Predators of the adult form of A. senhousia include boring carnivorous gastropods like Nassarius burchardi and Bedeva paivae, as well as the buccinid Cominella virgata and the ranellid Cyumatium parthenopeum(NIMPIS, 2002). Ducks and oystercatchers are known predators of A. senhousia in the Tamaki estuary in New Zealand (Creese et al., 1997), and diving ducks of the genus Aythya prey on this mussel in Japanese lagoons (Yamamuro et al., 1998). In the Adriatic Sea, the mud crab Dyspanopeus sayi and the Mediterranean shore crab Carcinus aestuarii prey on this species (Mistri, 2003a,b). In Western Australia, other reported predators include species of Polinices and Lepsiella, the snails Pteropurpura festiva and Conus californicus, the lobster Panulirus interruptus, and three species of fish: Anisotremus davidsoni, Umbrina roncador and Roncador stearnsii (NIMPIS, 2002).

Predation by native species contributes significantly to community resistance to invasion by A. senhousia in southern California, and may locally prevent the mussel from establishing dense, habitat-modifying beds with potential effects on native species (ISSG, 2007).


Means of Movement and Dispersal

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There is no evidence from the literature of vector transmission (biotic), or of any intentional introduction of this species in any part of the world. The initial invasion of the west coast of America has been attributed to accidental transport with oysters imported from Japan. Other possible mechanisms include transport in ballast water - at 14-55 days, the larval planktonic stage is long enough for ballast water transport, either between Pacific Coast ports or across the Pacific Ocean from Asia - or as hull fouling on ships or boats. Carlton (1979) suggested that the species arrival in southern California in the 1960s and 1970s may be related to the increase in ship movements between California and the western Pacific during the Vietnam War (Cohen, 2005).

In the Mediterranean, invasion of A. senhousia appears also to have been via shellfish farming and trading. Populations of A. senhousia in French lagoons have probably been introduced with oysters from Japan, and subsequent trade and culture brought them to the Adriatic Sea (Mistri et al., 2004) and the Bay of Biscay (Bachelet et al., 2009). The mode of introduction of A. senhousia into Australia is not known. It is possible that it may have been transported as fouling on the hulls of ships, as larvae in ballast water (GWA, 2005), or as an accidental importation with Pacific oysters (ISSG, 2007).


Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture Yes NIMPIS, 2002
Hitchhiker Yes NIMPIS, 2002

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture stocklarvae Yes NIMPIS, 2002
Ship ballast water and sedimentlarvae Yes NIMPIS, 2002
Ship hull foulingadults Yes Yes NIMPIS, 2002

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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Although A. senhousia has been blamed for smothering and killing cultivated clams in China and Japan (Cohen, 2005), studies by Mistri (2004a,b) showed no significant effect on either growth or mortality of two cultivated clams (Tapes decussatus and Ruditapes phillipinarum) by A. senhousia mats in the Adriatic.

Environmental Impact

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A. senhousia is a successful invader of many parts of the world and is capable of both interspecific effects and habitat alteration (Mistri et al., 2004). In some areas it has formed very large mats across shallow sheltered sea beds, with densities reaching 3300 individuals per square metre. Such occurrences may significantly alter the local biota and substrate by competition for food and space (GWA, 2005) and may have adverse impact on biodiversity through the exclusion of other species (Zenetos et al., 2004). The rate at which large A. senhousia assemblages filter the water for food and oxygen also accelerates the rate of conversion of suspended sediment to deposited material and may rapidly alter the stability of the substrate. Introductions such as these may also result in the introduction of associated species and/or diseases and parasites (GWA, 2005).

Impact on Habitats

The successful colonization of areas by A. senhousia leads to both trophic level and benthic dynamic effects. By removing a large volume of suspended organic material from the water column through feeding, A. senhousia subsequently deposits the filtered material on the bottom in the form of faeces and pseudofaeces. This deposition of large amounts of organic matter leads to the alteration of the nutritional quality of the sediment and to the diminution of the redox potential discontinuity layer, which in turn has the potential to affect the resident fauna by suppressing growth and affecting survival, rendering the environment within or under byssal mats unsuitable to adults or larvae of other species (Mistri et al., 2004). In the San Diego bay area, A. senhousia has been reported to impede the rhizome growth and vegetative propagation of species of eelgrass due to accumulation of toxic metabolites such as sulphide (Reusch and Williams, 1998), whereas in Western Australia it has caused a change in the sediments from sand to fine mud (GWA, 2005).

Given the ephemeral nature of A. senhousia byssal mats, the effect on habitats are likely to be short lived. Although the accumulated muddy anoxic sediments may persist for some time after the mussels have died, they will eventually be washed away by tidal currents (Creese et al., 1997).

Impact on Biodiversity

A. senhousia can dominate benthic communities and potentially exclude native species. It settles in aggregations and is therefore able to reach high densities, while unlike most mussels it lives entirely within the sediments, surrounded by a bag of byssal threads. At mussel densities of greater than 1500 per square metre, individual byssal bags coalesce to form a continuous mat or carpet on the sediment surface. The presence of these mats dramatically alters the resident macroinvertebrate assemblage. Although this can result in increased species richness and abundance of some species, mussel mats reduce the densities of many common native bivalves and the growth of nearby eelgrass (ISSG, 2007).

Crooks (1998, 2001) reported that the complex surface structure provided by A. senhousia mats increased the abundance of amphipods, tanaids, small snails and polychaete worms, but that the abundance of native, filter-feeding cockles declined, possibly because of competition for food. From a trophic-dynamic point of view, a negative relationship can be detected between A. senhousia and the abundance of other suspension-feeders, suggesting strong competitive interspecific relationships. Because of its dense aggregations, A. senhousia populations may locally deplete food supplies, thereby strongly affecting other suspension feeder bivalves (Mistri et al., 2004).

Core sampling in Tamaki estuary, New Zealand by Creese et al. (1997) revealed “significantly fewer macrofaunal invertebrates under mussel mats compared to control samples taken from areas of beach with out mussels”. Furthermore, “infaunal bivalves were most adversely affected by A. senhousia, showing an eight-fold decrease in abundance within mats compared to cores in the control area” (Creese et al., 1997). A. senhousia has also been blamed for smothering and killing bivalves, including cultivated clams, in China and Japan (Cohen, 2005), whereas in Mission Bay, USA it negatively affects the survivorship and growth of the surface-dwelling, suspension-feeding clams Chione undatella and Chione fluctifraga (Crooks, 2001).

In southern California, modest densities of A. senhousia were reported to enhance growth of the eelgrass Zostera marina through deposition of nutrients, whereas higher densities inhibited its spread. In return, dense eelgrass strands inhibited the mussels growth by reducing water flows and the delivery of phytoplankton (Cohen, 2005).

On the other hand, the creation of a novel three dimensional episurface structure can provide increased habitat heterogeneity on an otherwise soft bottom. The creation of hard surface areas that include holes or cracks suggests a positive effect on at least a part of the benthic community, species of which can colonise this new environment (Mistri et al., 2003). Large byssal mats can increase species density and richness (NIMPIS, 2002) and may provide an increase in habitable area for some other crustaceans, insects, molluscs and polychaetes (GWA, 2005). Small deposit feeders may be able to survive well under these conditions (Creese et al., 1997). In Western Australia, the presence of A. senhousia has resulted in a local increase in the biomass of benthic macro-organisms (GWA, 2005).

Crooks (1999) reported that the effects of A. senhousia appear to be scale dependent. At larger scales, surface-dwelling, suspension-feeding clams are competitively inhibited. However, at smaller scales the mussel benefits a variety of biota. Creese et al. (1997) suggests that “any adverse environmental effects caused by A. senhousia are likely to be local and short-lived”. The ephemeral nature of the mussel mats that has been observed suggests that any impacts might be only localised and short lived. However, the significance of such impacts in either the short or long term has not yet been determined (GWA, 2005).

According to Katsanevakis et al. (2014), its impact, both negative and positive, on ecosystem services and on biodiversity is only documented by expert judgement and/or is non-experimentally-based.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Fouling
  • Rapid growth


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A. senhousia has been used as fish bait and feed stock for shrimp and crab culture in Japan, and for food in China, with attempts made at culturing them (Cohen, 2005).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Bait/attractant

Human food and beverage

  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In Australia, A. senhousia resembles various species of the genera Amygdalum spp. and Musculus spp. It can be distinguished from Amygdalum spp., in that the latter are generally solitary mussels, whereas A. senhousia usually forms extensive mats of tightly packed individuals. Musculus spp. are shorter than A. senhousia and have faint radial ribs on the exterior, that are not present in the Asian date mussel (GWA, 2005).

A. senhousia also resembles Modiola arcuatula Hanley, 1844. However, the latter has a very swollen umbonal area (Zenetos et al., 2004).

Other species whose adult form can be confused with A. senhousia are Musculista glaberrima, Vusella spongarium and Xenostrobus securis (NIMPIS, 2002). The shells of V. spongiarum lack radial ridges or zigzags.

A. senhousia can be distinguished from Xenostrobus securis by the greenish colour of the outer periostracal layer, the radiating reddish lines on the posterior area, and the dysodont dentition on the dorsal edge just posterior to the ligament of the shell (Zenetos et al., 2004).

At their larval stage, A. senhousia resemble the larvae of Limnoperna fortunei, and those of Musculus marmoratus (NIMPIS, 2002).

Prevention and Control

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To date, A. senhousia appears to produce only short-lived minor impacts and so there has been little effort directed towards determining control options (GWA, 2005). McEnnulty et al. (2001) list four possible control options for A. senhousia: air exposure/dessication/freezing; commerical harvesting for food and fertiliser; dredging/beam-trawling/mopping; and heated water treatment through baths or spraying.

Predation by native species contributes significantly to community resistance to invasion by A. senhousia in southern California, and may locally prevent the mussel from establishing dense, habitat-modifying beds with potential effects on native species (ISSG, 2007). In Lake Nakaumi, Japan, predation on A. senhousia by diving ducks (Aythya spp.) during winter may prevent water quality from deteriorating due to mussel death during the summer when nuisance phytoplankton blooms and anoxia may occur (Yamamuro et al., 1998).



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Links to Websites

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AquaNIS system on aquatic non-indigenous and cryptogenic species
AquaNIS: Musculista senhousia species account
CIESM: Musculista senhousia Atlas of Exotic Molluscs in the Mediterranean
DAISIE species fact sheet: Musculista senhousia
Department of Fisheries - Western Australia
Guide to Exotic Species of San Francisco Bay
NIMPIS 2011 improvisus general information, National Introduced Marine Pest Information System,


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15/02/16 Updated by:

Argyro Zenetos, Institute of Oceanography, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, P.O. BOX 712, Anavissos 19013, Greece


11/12/07 Original text by:

Argyro Zenetos, Institute of Oceanography, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, P.O. BOX 712, Anavissos 19013, Greece

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