Deja vu? A second mytilid mussel, Semimytilus algosus, invades South Africa’s west coast

  • K de Greef
  • CL Griffiths
  • Z Zeeman

Abstract

A second marine mussel is shown to have invaded South Africa’s west coast. Molecular techniques, based on intraspecific gene sequence divergences, prove its identity as Semimytilus algosus, a member of the family Mytilidae, native to Chile. The identity of an older introduced population found in Namibia is also confirmed. The present geographic range of S. algosus in South Africa extends some 500 km, from Groenriviersmond in the north to Bloubergstrand in the south. Together with Mytilus galloprovincialis, another previously established invasive mussel, S. algosus has become a dominant intertidal organism on wave-exposed rocky shores across this region. Both species are now much more abundant intertidally than either of the indigenous mussels Aulacomya ater and Choromytilus meridionalis, which have become largely confined to sublittoral and sand-inundated habitats respectively. The two invasive mussels display strong spatial segregation, with M. galloprovincialis dominating the midshore and S. algosus blanketing the lower shore. Through a combination of its small size and high abundance, S. algosus is likely to greatly increase food availability for a range of intertidal predators, many of which cannot consume mussels above a threshold size.

Keywords: bio-invasion, mtDNA COI, predation, rocky shore

African Journal of Marine Science 2013, 35(3): 307–313

Author Biographies

K de Greef
Department of Biological Sciences and Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
CL Griffiths
Department of Biological Sciences and Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
Z Zeeman
Department of Biological Sciences and Centre for Invasion Biology, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
Published
2013-10-24
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X