Thermal constraints for range expansion of the invasive green mussel, Perna viridis, in the southeastern United States



Cold temperatures are thought to be among the most important determining factors of geographic distribution for tropical and sub-tropical marine invertebrates. The Asian green mussel, Perna viridis, has been introduced into coastal waters of Florida where its current distribution is hypothesized to be limited by low temperatures during winter. Lethal and sub-lethal effects (heat shock protein/Hsp70 expression) of cold water and air temperatures were analyzed in two size classes of P. viridis from Florida in an effort to determine the effects of current and forecasted temperatures on the potential for range expansion. Mussels were exposed to water temperatures of 14, 10, 7 and 3°C for up to 30 days, or to air temperatures of 14, 7, 0 and −10°C for periods of 2 hr. Mortality was significantly increased at all water and air temperatures ≤14°C. No differences in mortality rates were observed between small (15–45 mm) and large (75–105 mm) size classes except after exposure to 7°C air, in which small mussels had higher mortality. Significant increases in Hsp70 expression were observed after a 2-hour exposure to 10°C water, but Hsp70 expression was not significantly increased at any temperatures in which mortality was not also significant. The temperature threshold for survival in this population appears to be between 10 and 14°C, suggesting that under current conditions P. viridis may already be at the northern edge of its potential range in the United States. If water temperatures increase with global climate change, northerly flowing currents may permit range expansion as temperatures allow. J. Exp. Zool. 315:12–21, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.