Open Access
Knowl. Manag. Aquat. Ecosyst.
Number 420, 2019
Article Number 14
Number of page(s) 5
Published online 06 March 2019

© K.D. Cebulska and M. Krodkiewska, Published by EDP Sciences 2019

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The Oder River is the sixth largest river in Europe. Its estuary is considered to be one of the most exposed environments for the introduction of alien species in the Baltic Sea catchment. As the main harbour, it plays an important role in both marine and inland shipping and is regarded as a significant gateway for the dispersal of non-indigenous species (Gruszka, 1999Bij de Vaate et al., 2002; Galil et al., 2008; Gruszka and Woźniczka, 2008; Leuven et al., 2009; Gruszka et al., 2013; Pabis et al., 2017). The number of alien macroinvertebrate species in the Oder River is still growing. By the 20th century, 16 non-indigenous species had been identified in the Oder estuary, among them were three mollusc species (Potamopyrgus antipodarum, Dreissena polymorpha and Mya arenaria) (Gruszka, 1999). Since then, 13 new alien species have been recorded in the lower and the middle courses of the Oder River including seven mollusc species – Lithoglyphus naticoides (Bij de Vaate et al., 2002; Piechocki and Szlauer-Łukaszewska, 2013), Ferrissia fragilis, Menetus dilatatus, Physa acuta (Piechocki and Szlauer-Łukaszewska, 2013), Corbicula fluminalis (Łabęcka et al., 2005; Piechocki and Szlauer-Łukaszewska, 2013), Corbicula fluminea (Domagała et al., 2004) and Dreissena rostriformis bugensis (Woźniczka et al., 2016).

Mollusca are one of the most invasive animals in freshwater ecosystems and can pose a serious threat to native species (Francis and Chadwick, 2012; Lorencová et al., 2015). The Asian clam Corbicula fluminea (O. F. Müller, 1774) is a great example of this. The sexual populations of this species are restricted to the native Asian areas, but the androgenetic lineages are widely distributed in America and Europe (Pigneur et al., 2014). C. fluminea is recognized as one of the worst alien species in Europe (Nentwig et al., 2018) and one of the world's most widespread non-indigenous species in freshwater ecosystems (Hakenkamp and Palmer, 1999).

Many molluscs have proven to be very successful invaders. C. fluminea is one of the species that is greatly extending its distribution range. In less than 100 years, it has invaded all of the continents, except Antarctica (Crespo et al., 2015). Since 2003, it has been spreading in the Oder and the Vistula Rivers; therefore, it is probable that it may also inhabit other large rivers in Poland. The passive dispersal of C. fluminea is widely known to be predominantly attributed to human activity (deliberate or accidental), e.g., ballast water transport, use as bait, use as a food resource, releases by aquarium hobbyists, and tourist curiosity. Pediveligers or juveniles can also be dispersed in a natural way, i.e. fluvial or tidal currents or transported on mobile animals such as birds and mammals (Crespo et al., 2015; Coughlan et al., 2017). Fish also may be an alternative possibility for its passive dispersal (Gatlin et al., 2013).

In the Oder River, C. fluminea was detected for the first time in a heated water channel of the Lower Oder Power Station near Szczecin in 2003 (Domagała et al., 2004). Another species from this genus, i.e. Corbicula fluminalis (O.F. Műller, 1774), was collected from this site one year later (Łabęcka et al., 2005). Over the next several years, C. fluminea continued its spread in the lower and middle courses of the Oder River. It was found at six sampling sites from Zollbrücke to Ratzdorf in Germany (Müller et al., 2007) and at 14 localities on the stretch of the river from Szczecin to Kopanie in Poland (Wawrzyniak-Wydrowska, 2007). In the following years, Piechocki and Szlauer-Łukaszewska (2013) identified further records of C. fluminea at 11 sites in the middle course of the Oder River (on the section from Słubice to Głogów). Wilke (2007) also reported C. fluminea in the Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthal Channel, which links the end section of the Oder-Havel Canal with the Western Oder. In 2015, Asian clams were found at the mouth of the Osobłoga River, which is the left bank tributary of the Upper Oder River; however, they were mistakenly identified as Sphaerium rivicola. In 2011, live specimens of C. fluminea were first recorded in the Vistula River in Cracow, Poland (Maćkiewicz, 2013). It is probable that it has been present at this site since 2008 and got there due to the engineering works that were carried out in the river. In 2016, the Asian clam was collected in the Vistula River in Warsaw and, few months later, from three localities above Warsaw. Its occurrence in the Vistula River (27 findings on the stretch from Puławy to Opatowice) was also recorded in 2011–2016 (Bonk et al., 2018). The largest population and the largest individuals were noted at the outlet of a channel that collects heated water from the Połaniec Power Station as well as adjacent parts of the river (Bonk et al., 2018). In 2016, a new population of C. fluminea was recorded in the Warta-Gopło Channel in Konin, which is a part of a power plant lake cooling system (Central Poland) (Urbańska et al., 2018) (Fig. 1).

The expansion of C. fluminea has resulted in the continued increase in the number of habitats that have been colonised in the Vistula and Oder Rivers. Our study was carried out in the Upper Oder River (from Dobrzeń Mały to Utrata) in the Gliwice Canal, which links the upper course of the Oder River to the city of Gliwice in the Upper Silesian Industrial Region and in the lower course of the Kłodnica River (the right tributary of the Upper Oder River) from 2016 to 2017. Four sampling sites were situated in the Upper Oder River (along a 70 km stretch of the river), two in the initial stretch of the Gliwice Canal and one in the lower course of the Kłodnica River (Fig. 1). Samples of benthic macroinvertebrates were collected from the shore zone using a quadrate frame and an Ekman-Birge grab. Additionally, some physiochemical properties of the water were measured in the field and in the laboratory (Tab. 1). All of the molluscs were separated from the sediments, preserved in an 80% ethanol solution, and identified to the species level using the Piechocki and Wawrzyniak-Wydrowska key (2016). The length, height, and width of the shells of C. fluminea were measured using a vernier calliper. Small-sized individuals were measured using a stereoscopic microscope equipped with a camera and cellSens Standard 1.4 software.

In total, thirteen mollusc species were identified (seven gastropod species and six bivalve species). Among them, four alien species, i.e. Corbicula fluminea, Dreissena polymorpha, Physa acuta and Potamopyrgus antipodarum, were found (Tab. 2).

During our study, C. fluminea was recorded in the Oder River and in the Gliwice Canal, while it was not observed in the lower course of the Kłodnica River. In 2016, C. fluminea was found at two sampling sites in the Oder River, i.e. in Dobrzeń Mały (the 162nd km of the river course) and Zdzieszowice (the 108th km of the river course). In 2017, it also occurred in the Oder River in Koźle (the 95th km of the river course) and at one site in the Gliwice Canal (Fig. 1). The new localities are the southernmost records of this species in the Oder River, which indicates that it is still spreading upstream.

A total of 93 individuals of C. fluminea were collected. Live individuals were recorded both in the Oder River (66 specimens) and in the Gliwice Canal (3 specimens). Empty shells were only found in the Oder River. The highest number of live individuals was recorded in the Oder River in Zdzieszowice (38 specimens) in 2017. The density of the live specimens varied from 16 to 118 individuals per m2.

The shells of the C. fluminea that were collected were relatively small. In the Oder River, the mean dimensions of the empty shells were length 15.35 ± 3.98 mm, height 13.53 ± 3.76 mm, and width 10.13 ± 2.67 mm, and the mean dimensions of the live individuals were smaller, i.e. length 7.68 ± 5.23 mm, height 6.55 ± 4.66 mm and width 4.54 ± 3.46 mm. In the Gliwice Canal, the mean dimensions of the shells were similar to those in the Oder River: length 8.67 ± 3.06 mm, height 7.50 ± 2.94 mm, and width 5.27 ± 2.04 mm. Our results show that these populations of C. fluminea consist of young individuals. This fact is typical for young, growing populations that are in the initial stage of invasion. The dimensions of the shells from the area that was studied are similar to those from other populations of C. fluminea in the Oder and Vistula Rivers (Domagała et al., 2004; Wawrzyniak-Wydrowska, 2007; Maćkiewicz, 2013; Bonk et al., 2018), but smaller than those from the heated Konin lakes, which most likely results from the higher water temperature in those lakes compared to the rivers (Urbańska et al., 2018).

In our study, C. fluminea was recorded in Dobrzeń Mały and Zdzieszowice in 2016, but one year later, individual specimens were also found in the Gliwice Canal (8.7 km south of Zdzieszowice) and in the Oder River in Koźle (10.1 km south of Zdzieszowice) (Fig. 1). The rate of the spread of C. fluminea that has been indicated by different authors varies. Schmidlin and Baur (2007) pointed out that its mean upstream spread in the Rhine River was 2.4 km per year via waterfowl and recreational boating. Another study that was carried out in the Rhine River in 1990 suggested that this species spreads at a much higher dispersal rate of 85–115 km per year (Bij de Vaate, 1991).

Our study indicates that C. fluminea prefers sandy-muddy sediments. It was recorded on a substrate that consisted of empty zebra mussels only in the Gliwice Canal (Tab. 1). On the other hand, Urbańska et al. (2018) noted the highest density of C. fluminea on a bottom that was covered with empty zebra mussel shells.

In Poland, C. fluminea is considered an alien invasive species which may endanger native species or natural habitats if it is introduced to the natural environment (the regulation of the Minister of Environmental Protection, 2011). It could post a danger especially for other bivalves by rapid growth, competition for food, earlier sexual maturity, a short life span, and high fertility (Sousa et al., 2008). Nevertheless, in small densities, it does not have to be seen as a threat for native species, but it requires monitoring as do all invasive species do (Sousa et al., 2008; Ilarri et al., 2014).


The authors are deeply indebted to the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments, which improved the quality of this manuscript and to Ms. Michele L. Simmons, B.A., the University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland and Letterman Sp. z o.o., Kraków, Poland for English-language corrections, for improving the English style.


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Cite this article as: Cebulska KD, Krodkiewska M. 2019. Further dispersion of the invasive alien species Corbicula fluminea (O. F. Müller, 1774) in the Oder River. Knowl. Manag. Aquat. Ecosyst., 420, 14.

All Tables

Table 1

Physio-chemical properties of water and type of substrates at the sampling sites.

Table 2

The checklist of molluscs collected in the studied area.

All Figures

thumbnail Fig. 1

Distribution of Corbicula fluminea in Poland.

In the text

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