Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 2053–2061 | Cite as

Impacts of two invasive mollusks, Rapana venosa (Gastropoda) and Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia), on the food web structure of the Río de la Plata estuary and nearshore oceanic ecosystem

  • Diego Lercari
  • Leandro Bergamino
Original Paper


This paper quantifies the impacts of two invasive species, Rapana venosa (Gastropoda, Muricidae) and Corbicula fluminea (Bivalvia, Corbiculidae), in the food web of the Río de la Plata estuary and adjacent nearshore oceanic ecosystem. We analyzed certain functional traits of these mollusks assessed by a mass balance trophic model previously constructed for the years 2005–2007. This model incorporates 37 functional groups: three marine mammals species, one coastal bird, 17 fishes, 12 invertebrates, two zooplankton, one phytoplankton, and detritus. The model also includes 5 fishing fleets operating in the area. The results showed that the two invasive species affect multiple ecosystem components both directly and indirectly. R. venosa and the whitemouth croaker, Micropogonias furnieri, exhibited a high level of niche overlap (91%), while C. fluminea exhibited a high level of niche overlap with Mytilidae (94%), which suggests in both cases high levels of competition for similar resources. R. venosa had mixed trophic impacts but exhibited a predominantly top down effect on most bivalves. R. venosa could be a threat to natural resources in the area including to the fishing fleets. C. fluminea negatively influenced phytoplankton and detritus biomass and its positive effects on higher trophic level groups suggest a central bottom-up role in the food web as a bentho-pelagic coupler. Both species had negative impacts on the five fleets modeled, showing that the effects of these invasive species could extend to the socio-economic sector.


Ecopath Invasive species Rapana venosa Corbicula fluminea Río De La Plata 



We thank all the people who contributed information for the implementation of the ecosystem model. L.B thanks the ANII and D.L. thanks CSIC for support. We also acknowledge helpful comments from Javier García-Alonso of the Natural History Museum, London, which improved the manuscript. Support from projects PDT 7107 and DINARA/FAO/GEF (ID 3410) is also acknowledged. We also acknowledge the extensive revisions suggested by two anonymous referees that substantially improved this article.

Supplementary material

10530_2011_23_MOESM1_ESM.xls (55 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 55 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of SciencesUNDECIMARMontevideoUruguay

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