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The introduced ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa) in Estero de Punta Banda, Mexico: Interactions with the native cord grass, Spartina foliosa

January 1, 2005

Introduced populations of Guekensia demissa occur on the west coast of North America. They have been reported in San Francisco Bay, four southern California wetlands, and in Estero de Punta Banda (EPB), Baja California Norte, Mexico. We randomly sampled benthic invertebrates in four habitat types within EPB: marsh, channel, mudflat and pan. Geukensia demissa was the most abundant bivalve in the wetland at EPB. It was significantly associated with the native cordgrass, Spartina foliosa, and occurred at higher average densities in vegetated marsh sites (24/m2) and Spartina-dominated tidal channels (35/m2), compared to mudflat (0/m2), and pan (0/m2) sites. We estimated that the total biomass of this invader was over four times that of the next most abundant bivalve, Tagelus spp., in EPB. We examined G. demissa for parasites and found that only a few native parasites colonized this introduced host at very low prevalences and intensities. We performed bird surveys to determine the habitat overlap and potential impact of this mussel on the EPB population of light-footed clapper rails (Rallus longirostrus levipes), an endangered species in the United States. The high abundance of G. demissa in EPB, its presence in clapper rail habitat, and its known effects on salt marsh habitat in it’s native range, warrant further investigations of the impact of this invader in EPB and elsewhere.