Zoochorous dispersal of freshwater bivalves: an overlooked vector in biological invasions?

Neil E. Coughlan*, Andrew L. Stevens, Thomas C. Kelly, Jaimie T.A. Dick, Marcel A.K. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)


Vectors that underpin the natural dispersal of invasive alien species are frequently unknown. In particular, the passive dispersal (zoochory) of one organism (or propagule) by another, usually more mobile animal, remains poorly understood. Field observations of the adherence of invasive freshwater bivalves to other organisms have prompted us to assess the importance of zoochory in the spread of three prolific invaders: zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha; quagga mussel Dreissena bugensis; and Asian clam Corbicula fluminea. An extensive, systematic search of the literature was conducted across multiple on-line scientific databases using various search terms and associated synonyms. In total, only five publications fully satisfied the search criteria. It appears that some fish species can internally transport viable adult D. polymorpha and C. fluminea specimens. Additionally, literature indicates that veligers and juvenile D. polymorpha can adhere to the external surfaces of waterbirds. Overall, literature suggests that zoochorous dispersal of invasive bivalves is possible, but likely a rare occurrence. However, even the establishment of a few individuals (or a single self-fertilising C. fluminea specimen) can, over-time, result in a substantial population. Here, we highlight knowledge gaps, identify realistic opportunities for data collection, and suggest management protocols to mitigate the spread of invasive alien species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
Number of pages8
JournalKnowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2017


  • Ectozoochory
  • Endozoochory
  • Freshwater ecosystems
  • Ichthyochory
  • Invasive alien
  • Secondary spread

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Zoochorous dispersal of freshwater bivalves: an overlooked vector in biological invasions?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this