Monthly censusing of reproductive condition of the Asian clam Potamocorbula amurensis at four sites in northern San Francisco Bay over a 9-yr period revealed year-to-year differences in local reproductive activity that are associated with patterns of hydrologic variability. Between 1989 and 1992, Northern California experienced a drought, whereas the period between 1993 and 1998 was marked by a mix of wet and dry years. We took advantage of the extreme year-to-year differences to examine reproductive responses to river inflow patterns. Populations of P. amurensis at the upstream sites in Suisun Bay and Carquinez Strait were more reproductively active during wet years than dry years. Conversely, at the downstream site in San Pablo Bay, the population was more reproductively active during dry years than wet years. We suggest that the different reproductive patterns observed reflect the clam's response to different sources of food. During wet years, organic matter from the rivers augments food supplies in Suisun Bay. During dry years, when inflow into the San Francisco Bay Estuary from the rivers is reduced, water transported from the adjacent ocean into the estuary as far as San Pablo Bay provides a supplemental food supply for the local production. The populations take advantage of these spatially distinct food supplies by initiating and maintaining local reproductive activity. We conclude that the ability of P. amurensis to consume and use various types of food to regulate its reproductive activity is part of the reason for its success as an invasive species.
Additional publication details
Influence of hydrologic processes on reproduction of the introduced bivalve Potamocorbula amurensis in northern San Francisco Bay, California