We report the discovery in April 1986 of the first population of Asiatic clam, Corbicula fluminea, known to occupy a lotic environment in the Laurentian Great Lakes system. This population occupied a 3.8 km long sandy shoal in the discharge plume of a steam-electric power plant on the St. Clair River (Michigan), the outflow of Lake Huron. Samples collected April 1986 to April 1987 revealed the growth of one-year-old Corbicula (1985 cohort) began after mid-May and ended by mid-November, while water temperatures were higher than 9°C. Maximum growth (0.78 mm wk-1) occurred between mid-August and mid-September, while water temperatures were about 16-23°C. We recorded a substantial overwinter mortality of the 1986 cohort, but not the 1985 cohort; this was particularly evident at sampling locations more remote from the heated discharge of the power plant, suggesting low water temperature wast the major mortality agent. The available information suggests low water temperature in the St. Clair River may limit the success of Corbicula in the river, including portions of populations inhabiting thermal plumes, by reducing growth, delaying the onset of sexual maturity and reproduction, and causing heavy overwinter mortality in the first year of life.
Additional publication details
Growth and overwinter survival of the Asiatic clam, Corbicula fluminea, in the St. Clair River, Michigan