The invasive clam Corbicula fluminea has become a widespread benthic invertebrate in many freshwater ecosystems throughout Europe and North and South America. Invasive bivalves can dramatically alter the structure of native benthic communities, so understanding the factors responsible for successful invasion is important. We investigated C. fluminea nutritional requirements for essential lipids in a standardized growth experiment. Juvenile clams were fed different cyanobacteria (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Anabaena variabilis, Synechococcus elongatus) or eukaryotic algae (Scenedesmus obliquus, Cryptomonas sp.). Somatic growth rates were then correlated with elemental (C∶N and C∶P) and biochemical (sterol and fatty acid content) components of the food sources and clam tissue. Somatic growth rates were significantly higher when juveniles were fed eukaryotic algae than when fed cyanobacteria. Linear regression analyses revealed significant positive relationships between somatic growth rates and dietary sterol and polyunsaturated fatty acid content. Somatic growth rates also were highly correlated with the total sterol and α-linolenic acid content of clam tissues. This result suggests that the growth of C. fluminea is partially dependent on the availability of these essential lipids in the diet. Algal nutritional value may influence the successful geographic spread of this highly invasive species because food quality and quantity are changing as a result of global warming.
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