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Muscling mussels: Understanding the invasive potential of the South American bivalve Mytella strigata (Hanley, 1843) in the Northern Indian Ocean

Abstract

In past decades, non-native species invasion has emerged as one of the leading drivers of biodiversity loss in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems globally. In aquatic ecosystems, invasion by bivalve species has increased substantially due to their evolutionary resilience and adaptability. This study aimed to determine the habitat suitability of the South American bivalve Mytella strigata in the northern Indian Ocean using Species distribution modelling. The species occurrence and environmental data for model building were extracted from GBIF, Bio-ORACLE, The World Bank Data Catalogue and GMED. Pearson's correlation (<0.7) and Variance inflation factor (<10) analyses were used to select the environmental covariates. Individual models were built by combining the native range occurrence data of Mytella strigata with the bioclimatic data under the current climatic setting. Ten individual models were built and ensembled to create the final model using the biomod2 package. The variable importance score and the response curve plot were used to identify the most crucial variable and its influence on the models. Distance to port had the highest influence on predicting the distribution of Mytella strigata. The results indicated that the western coast of India as more susceptible to invasion. Our predictions indicate that the species has the potential to become highly invasive in the region, given the vast habitat suitability and documented introduction and presence of the species in the region. This research generated baseline information on the habitat suitability of M. strigata that will aid in managing and restricting its spread in the region. Considering the substantial impact of the species in other introduced ranges worldwide, immediate action should be initiated for the swift management of M. strigata from the Indian coast

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Last time updated on 31/01/2024

This paper was published in CMFRI Digital Repository.

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