The Asian date mussel, Musculista senhousia (Mytilidae), is a good example of a species that has dispersed outwards from its native area through human-mediated transport, establishing sustainable populations in distant parts of the world. The date mussel, which is endemic in the Western Pacific region, appeared and became very abundant in the Sacca di Goro, a brackish lagoon in the Po River Delta (northern Adriatic Sea, Italy) in the early 1990s. Effects of M. senhousia on macrobenthic biodiversity were assessed over a ten year time period. At the study site, the increase in abundance and spread of M. senhousia resulted in an alteration of the pre-established macrobenthic community. Changes in benthic dynamics seemed apparent, through the inhibition of epifaunal, suspension-feeding taxa (Ficopomatus enigmaticus, Mytilaster minimus), and the enhancement of detritivores (Neanthes succinea, Streblospio shrubsolii, Microdeutopus gryllotalpa). It is hypothesized that the Asian date mussel was initially successful because it exploited a naturally disturbed, sparsely occupied environment, rather than interjecting itself among and displacing existing species. Musculista senhousia acted, at least initially, as a colonizer rather than an invader.
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