Biological Invasions

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 947–963 | Cite as

Dispersion and Ecological Impact of the Invasive Freshwater Bivalve Limnoperna fortunei in the Río de la Plata Watershed and Beyond

  • Demetrio Boltovskoy
  • Nancy Correa
  • Daniel Cataldo
  • Francisco Sylvester


Limnoperna fortunei is a freshwater bivalve that invaded South America through Río de la Plata estuary in 1989 and has since become a major macrofouling pest. Along the Paraná-Paraguay waterway, which hosts intense boat traffic, L. fortunei has moved upstream at an average rate of of 250 km per year. In contrast, along the Uruguay river, where boat traffic is restricted to the lowermost 200 km section, upstream colonization is almost 10-times slower. This suggests that attachment to vessels is by far the most important dispersion mechanism. It is suggested that the Amazon, Orinoco and Magdalena basins are under high risk of invasion by this mussel, especially through their estuarine gateways. All South American basins host innumerable water bodies with favorable conditions for L. fortunei’s colonization. Known ecological tolerance limits of the mussel also suggest that it may colonize much of the area from Central America to Canada, including waters that due to their low calcium contents, high temperature and pollution levels, and low oxygen are inadequate for the survival of Dreissena polymorpha. Despite it’s remarkable geographic expansion and its extremely high population densities, L. fortunei’s ecological effects have received very little attention so far. It is suggested that the 2.4-fold increase in Argentine landings of freshwater fish between 1992–1993 and 2000–2001 may be associated with the introduction of this prey species.


bivalvia colonization ecological impact freshwater molluscs invasive species 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Avelar WEP, Martim SL and Vianna MP (2004). A new occurrence of Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker 1856) (Bivalvia, Mytilidae) in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Biology 64: 739–742 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boltovskoy D and Cataldo D (1999). Population dynamics of Limnoperna fortunei, an invasive fouling mollusc, in the lower Paraná river (Argentina). Biofouling 14: 255–263Google Scholar
  3. Boltovskoy D, Izaguirre I and Correa N (1995). Feeding selectivity of Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia) on natural phytoplankton. Hydrobiologia 312: 171–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bonetto AA and Di Persia DH (1975). Las poblaciones de pelecípodos del arroyo Ayi Grande (Prov Entre Rios) y los factores que regulan su distribución y estructura. Ecosur 2: 123–151Google Scholar
  5. Bonetto C, Villar C, Vaithiyanathan P and Cabo L (1998). Hydrochemistry of a large floodplain river. Verhandlung Internationale Vereingung Limnologie 26: 899–902 Google Scholar
  6. Botts PS, Patterson BA and Schloesser DW (1996). Zebra Mussel effects on benthic invertebrates: physical or biotic?. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 15: 179–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Byers JE, Reichard S, Randall JM, Parker IM, Smith CS, Lonsdale WM, Atkinson IAE, Seastedt TR, Williamson M, Chornesky E and Hayes D (2002). Directing research to reduce the impacts of nonindigenous species. Conservation Biology 16: 630–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlton JT (1993). Dispersal mechanisms of the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha). In: Nalepa, TF and Schloesser, DW (eds) Zebra Mussels: Biology Impact and Control, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton 677–697Google Scholar
  9. Cataldo D and Boltovskoy D (1998). Population dynamics of Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia) in the Paraná river delta (Argentina). Hydrobiologia 380: 153–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cataldo D and Boltovskoy D (2000). Yearly reproductive activity of Limnoperna fortunei (Bivalvia) as inferred from the occurrence of its larvae in the plankton of the lower Paraná river and the Río de la Plata estuary (Argentina). Aquatic Ecology 34: 307–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cataldo D, Boltovskoy D, Hermosa JL and Canzi C (2005). Temperature-dependent larval development rates of Limnoperna fortunei (Mollusca, Bivalvia). Journal of Molluscan Studies 71: 41–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cataldo D, Boltovskoy D, Marini V and Correa N (2002) Limitantes de la expansión de Limnoperna fortunei en la cuenca del Plata: la predación por peces. Terceras Jornadas sobre la Conservación de la Fauna Ictica del Río Uruguay, Paysandú, Uruguay, 25–26 April 2002Google Scholar
  13. Cataldo D, Boltovskoy D and Pose M (2003). Toxicity of chlorine and three non-oxidizing molluscicides to the invasive pest mussel Limnoperna fortunei. Journal of the American Waterworks Association 95: 66–78Google Scholar
  14. Cataldo D, Boltovskoy D, Stripeikis J and Pose M (2001a). Condition index and growth rates of field caged Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia) as biomarkers of pollution gradients in the Paraná river delta (Argentina). Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 4: 187–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cataldo D, Colombo JC, Boltovskoy D, Bilos C and Landoni P (2001b). Environmental toxicity assessment in the Paraná river delta (Argentina): simultaneous evaluation of selected pollutants and mortality rates of Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia) juveniles. Environmental Pollution 112: 379–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Claudi R and Mackie GL (1994). Practical Manual for Zebra Mussel Monitoring and Control. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  17. Clemente JM and Brugnoli E (2000) Primer registro de Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker 1857) en el Río Negro (Embalse Palmar) y Río Yí. Tercer Seminario sobre la Calidad de las Aguas Contaminadas, Colón, Entre Ríos, Argentina, 29–30 November 2000Google Scholar
  18. Darrigran G (2002). Potential impact of filter-feeding invaders on temperate inland freshwater environments. Biological Invasions 4: 145–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Darrigran G, Martin SM, Gullo B and Armendariz L (1998). Macroinvertebrates associated with Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker, 1857) (Bivalvia, Mytilidae) in Río de la Plata, Argentina. Hydrobiologia 367: 223–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Depetris PJ and Kempe S (1993). Carbon dynamics and sources in the Paraná River. Limnolgy and Oceanography 38: 382–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elton CS (1958). The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Ferriz RA, Villar CA, Colautti D and Bonetto C (2000). Alimentación de Pterodoras granulosus (Valenciennes) (Pisces, Doradidae) en la baja cuenca del Plata Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘Bernardino Rivadavia’, Nueva Serie. Hydrobiologia 2: 151–156Google Scholar
  23. Furch K and Junk WJ (1997). Physicochemical conditions in the floodplains. In: Junk, WJ (eds) The Central Amazon floodplain. Ecology of a Pulsing System, Springer–Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  24. Garton DW and Haag WR (1993). Seasonal reproductive cycles and settlement patterns of Dreissena polymorpha in western Lake Erie. In: Nalepa, TF and Schloesser, DW (eds) Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact and Control, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton 111–128Google Scholar
  25. Griffiths RW, Schloesser DW, Leach JH and Kovalak WP (1991). Distribution and dispersal of the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in the Great Lakes region. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48: 1381–1388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guerrero RA, Lasta C, Acha M, Mianzan H and Framiñan M (1997) Atlas Hidrográfico del Río de la Plata. Comisión Administradora del Río de la Plata, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  27. Hamilton SK and Lewis WM (1990). Basin morphology in relation to chemical and ecological characteristics of lakes on the Orinoco River floodplain, Venezuela. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 119: 393–425Google Scholar
  28. Iwaskiw JM (2001). Pesquerías continentales del tramo argentino de la Cuenca del Plata. Consejo Federal de Inversiones, Argentina Google Scholar
  29. Junk WJ (1997). General aspects of floodplain ecology with special reference ro Amazonian floodplains. In: Junk, WJ (eds) The Central Amazon floodplain. Ecology of a Pulsing System, Springer–Verlag, Berlin 3–22Google Scholar
  30. Junk WJ and Robertson BA (1997). Aquatic invertebrates. In: Junk, WJ (eds) The Central Amazon Floodplain. Ecology of a Pulsing System, Springer–Verlag, Berlin 279–298Google Scholar
  31. Karatayev AY, Burlakova LE and Padilla DK (1997). The Effects of Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas) invasion on áquatic communities in Eastern Europe. Journal of Shellfish Research 16: 187–203Google Scholar
  32. Karatayev AY, Burlakova LE and Padilla DK (1998). Physical factors that limit the distribution and abundance of Dreissena polymorpha (Pall.). Journal of Shellfish Research 17: 1219–1235Google Scholar
  33. MacIsaac HJ, Grigorovich IA and Ricciardi A (2001). Reassessment of species invasions concepts: the Great Lakes basin as a model. Biological Invasions 3: 405–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Maglianesi RE (1973). Principales características químicas y físicas del las aguas del Alto Paraná y Paraguay Inferior. Physis 32: 185–197Google Scholar
  35. Mansur MCD, Richinitti LMZ and dos Santos CP (1999). Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker, 1857) molusco bivalve invasor na bacia do Guaíba, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. Biociências 7: 147–149Google Scholar
  36. Mansur MCD, Darrigran G, Heydrich I, Callil CT and Cardoso FR (2003). Primeiros dados quali-quantitativos do mexilhão-dourado, Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker), no Delta do Jacuí, no Lago Guaíba e na Laguna dos Patos, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil e alguns aspectos de sua invasão no novo ambiente. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 20: 75–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McNeill DB (2001). Biology and potential impacts of Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker). Dreissena! The digest of the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse 11: 1–9Google Scholar
  38. Montalto L, Oliveros OB, Ezcurrade Drago I and Demonte LD (1999). Peces del Río Paraná medio predadores de una especie invasora: Limnoperna fortunei (Bivalvia, Mytilidae). Revista de la Facultad de Bioquímica y Ciencias Biológicas de la Universidad Nacional del Litoral 3: 85–101Google Scholar
  39. Morton BS (1979). Freshwater fouling bivalves. Proceedings of the First International Corbicula Symposium. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TexasGoogle Scholar
  40. O’Farrell I (1994). Comparative analysis of the phytoplankton of fifteen lowland fluvial systems of the Rivel Plate Basin (Argentina). Hydrobiologia 289: 109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ogawa K, Nakatsugawa T and Yasuzaki IM (2004). Heavy metacercarial infections of cyprinid fishes in Uji River. Fisheries Science 70: 132–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Padilla DK, Chotkowski MA and Buchan LAJ (1996). Predicting the spread of Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) to inland waters using boater movement patterns. Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters 5: 353–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pastorino G, Darrigran G, Martin S and Lunaschi L (1993). Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker, 1957) (Mytilidae) nuevo bivalvo invasor en aguas del Río de la Plata. Neotropica 39: 101Google Scholar
  44. Payne AI (1986). The ecology of tropical lakes and rivers. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  45. Penchaszadeh PE, Darrigran G, Angulo C, Averbuj A, Brogger M, Dogliotti A and Pirez N (2000). Predation of the invasive freshwater mussel Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker, 1857) (Mytilidae) by the fish Leporinus obtusidens Valenciennes, 1846 (Anostomidae) in the Rio de la Plata, Argentina. Journal of Shellfish Research 19: 229–231Google Scholar
  46. Pimentel D, Lach L, Zuniga R and Morrison D (2000). Environmental and economic costs of nonindigenous species in the United States. Bioscience 50: 53–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Poddubny AG (1966). Adaptive response of Rutilus rutilus to variable environmental conditions. Trudy Instiyuta Biologii Vnutrennykh Vod Akademii Nauk SSSR 10: 131–138Google Scholar
  48. Ramcharan CW, Padilla DK and Dodson SI (1992). Models to predict potential occurrence and density of the Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 49: 2611–2620 Google Scholar
  49. Renzi MA (2002). Resumen sobre la evaluación y sugerencias de manejo para el efectivo de merluza sur de 41°S, año. Informe Técnico Interno del Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP), Argentina, 1–12Google Scholar
  50. Ricciardi A (1998). Global range expansion of the Asian mussel Limnoperna fortunei (Mytilidae): another fouling threat to freshwater systems. Biofouling 13: 97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sprung M (1987). Ecological reuirements of developing Dreissena polymorpha eggs. Archiv für Hydrobiologie, Supplement 79: 69–86Google Scholar
  52. Stachowicz JJ, Whitlatch RB and Osman RW (1999). Species diversity and invasion resistance in a marine ecosystem. Science 286: 1577–1579CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Strayer DL (1991). Predicted distribution of the Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha in North America. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48: 1389–1395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Sverlij SB, Espinach Ros A and Orti G (1993). Sinopsis de los datos biológicos y pesqueros del sábalo (Prochilodus lineatus (Valenciennes, 1847)). FAO Sinopsis sobre la Pesca 154, RomaGoogle Scholar
  55. Sylvester F, Boltovskoy D and Cataldo D. Fast response of freshwater consumers to a new trophic resource: predation on the recently introduced Asian bivalve Limnoperna fortunei in the lower Paraná river, South America (submitted)Google Scholar
  56. Thayer SA, Haas RC, Hunter RD and Kushler RH (1997). Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) effects on sediment, other zoobenthos, and the diet and growth of adult yellow perch (Perca favescens) in pond enclosures. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54: 1903–1915CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vinogradov GE, Smirnova NF, Sokolov VA and Bruznitsky AA (1993). Influence of chemical composition of the water on the mollusk Dreissena polymorpha. In: Nalepa, TF and Schloesser, DW (eds) Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton 283–294Google Scholar
  58. Wetzel RG (1975). Limnology. Saunders, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Demetrio Boltovskoy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nancy Correa
    • 4
  • Daniel Cataldo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Francisco Sylvester
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasArgentina
  3. 3.Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales ‘Bernardino Rivadavia’Argentina
  4. 4.Servicio de Hidrografía NavalArgentina

Personalised recommendations