Dispersal ability and invasion success of Crepidula fornicata in a single gulf: insights from genetic markers and larval-dispersal model
Viard, F.; Ellien, C.; Dupont, L. (2006). Dispersal ability and invasion success of Crepidula fornicata in a single gulf: insights from genetic markers and larval-dispersal model. Helgol. Mar. Res. 60(2): 144-152
The success of an exotic species relies on many factors including dispersal capabilities and adaptation to novel environments. In particular, rapid spread from an initial point of introduction favours long-term establishment of exotic species, especially when large genetic diversity is maintained during the colonization phase. We here focused on the slipper limpet, Crepidula fornicata, a species native to the western Atlantic that has successfully invaded European bays and estuaries since the end of the nineteenth century following repeated introductions. Its settlement at high densities has major consequences on the macro-benthic fauna and flora. The aim of the present study was to analyse the ability of C. fornicata for rapid diffusion and long-distance dispersal, at the level of a large French gulf, namely the gulf of St-Malo (covering 120 km in latitude and 40 km in longitude) in the English Channel. The genetic architecture of 16 populations distributed all over this gulf was investigated using five microsatellite loci. Genetic diversity was found to be high and did not vary significantly with population density, population age or geographic location. Moreover, despite potential isolation among populations due to a strong tidal regime and the action of wind-induced currents, only weak barriers to gene flow were found across the gulf. These results were in agreement with results obtained from a simple 2D larval dispersal model. Both genetic data and the simulation model highlighted the potential for rapid and efficient spread of C. fornicata at a regional level.