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  • José H. Leal

Florida at Risk from Potential Invasions by Mollusks

In a very comprehensive article published in 2023, Deah Lieurance (Agronomy Department, University of Florida, Gainesville) and her collaborators* have identified and discussed potential organisms capable of establishing themselves in Florida. Using a process known as horizon scanning, the authors determined the pathways for invasion and possible impacts of non-native animal and plant species on local ecosystems in the Sunshine State within the next decade. Among the 460 species evaluated, from low to very high risk, the freshwater Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha, originally from the lakes of Russia and Ukraine, but widespread in northern North America) scored among the four highest-risk non-native species in their study. Those are species with high potential to arrive, establish, and cause negative impacts to the environment, economy, or human health. Other mollusks involved in the study were the freshwater Golden Mussel (Limnoperna fortunei, originally from China) and the marine Veined Rapa Whelk (Rapana venosa), this latter a species of the murex family Muricidae that already established itself from the western Pacific into the coast of the mid-Atlantic states.  Read the article here.

The Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha. Photo: Robert Aguilar, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Lieurance, D., S. Canavan, D. C. Behringer, A. E. Kendig, C. R. Minteer, L. S. Reisinger, C. M. Romagosa, et al. 2023. “Identifying Invasive Species Threats, Pathways, and Impacts to Improve Biosecurity.” Ecosphere 14(12): e4711.


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