Invasive species as a threat to biodiversity: The golden mussel Limnoperna fortune approaching the Amazon River basin

By February 11, 2015Aquatic invasives, Workgroup 3

Author(s): Marcela Uliano-Silva, Flávio F. C. F. Fernandes, Igor B. B. de Holanda and Mauro F. Rebelo

Publication: Exploring Themes on Aquatic Toxicology

Publication Date: 2013

Abstract: Limnoperna fortunei (Dunker, 1758) is a freshwater bivalve that arrived in South America in the early 1990s. Today it is widespread in the La Plata, Uruguay and Paraguay river basins and is also present in the Tietê River and the Patos Lagoon system. The golden mussel has the capacity of fouling pipes, causing financial losses to hydroelectric power plants and water-supply companies. Further, this mussel is a very efficient ecosystem engineer, modifying physical and biotic elements in the ecosystems where it occurs. Its high tolerance to different environments together with human assistance through ballast-water discharge and transport on boat hulls posses a high possibility of its introduction into Amazonian waters. In an attempt to respond to this risk, some measures have been taken; among these, the discharge of chloride into the water has been ineffective in killing mussels and is jeopardizing other aquatic organisms. The Brazilian federal government and the Navy are taking precautions against its spread, and Brazilian researchers are studying the biology of the golden mussel in order to find a way to kill it without harming the environment. However, the situation is not yet totally under control; education might be the only way to prevent the golden mussel from dispersing northward from the city of Cáceres in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland, the present northern limit of its distribution.

View and download