Molluscan ResearchISSN 1323-5818
 An international journal of the Malacological Society of Australasia and 
the Society for the Study of Molluscan Diversity published by Magnolia Press

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Molluscan Research 30(2): 57-72; published 30 Jul. 2010
Copyright © The Malacological Society of Australasia & the Society for the Study of Molluscan Diversity

Colonization of Asian freshwaters by the Mytilidae (Bivalvia): a comparison of Sinomytilus harmandi from the Tonle-Sap River, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with Limnoperna fortunei


1Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom.

2Zoological Museum, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen.

3Coastal Ecology Section, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Charlottenlund Castle, Jægersborg Allé 1, DK-2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark.


Sinomytilus harmandi occurs in the lakes and rivers of Indochina, notably in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and, again notably, the Mekong River and its myriad tributaries. Hitherto, this species and its four junior synonyms have been examined only superficially. Because of an interior shell septum, S. harmandi was originally assigned to the Dreissenidae (Bivalvia: Heterodonta), an anatomically distinct family naturally restricted to Europe and the Americas. In addition to S. harmandi, a second species of mytilid mussel, Limnoperna fortunei, also occurs in Asian freshwater systems and both belong to the Mytilidae (Pteriomorphia), as demonstrated in this study for S. harmandi and elsewhere for L. fortunei. Sinomytilus harmandi is likely endemic to the Mekong River where it is sympatric with L. fortunei, the latter species being widely distributed in Indochina, south of and including the Yangtse River in China. Limnoperna fortunei is a highly opportunistic species that has been introduced into many locations outside its mainland Chinese borders, for example, Japan, Taiwan and South America. We suggest the possibility that L. fortunei has also been introduced into tropical Indochina from China. Because L. fortunei has a Devonian (~345-395 mya) modioline ancestry and S. harmandi is derived from a Permo-Trias (~265–225 mya) ancient mytiline ancestor it appears that Asian freshwater systems have been colonized by representatives of the Mytilidae on two separate temporal occasions.

Key words: Asian freshwater mussels, invasive species, biology, distribution, Mekong River, China

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