Dispersal of invasive species by drifting

M.C. van Riel, G. van der Velde, A. bij de Vaate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Drifting can be an effective way for aquatic organisms to disperse and colonise new areas. Increasing connectivity between European large rivers facilitates invasion by drifting aquatic macroinvertebrates. The present study shows that high abundances of invasive species drift in the headstream of the river Rhine. Dikerogammarus villosus and Chelicorophium curvispinum represented up to 90% of the total of drifting macroinvertebrates. Drift activity shows seasonal and diel patterns. Most species started drifting in spring and were most abundant in the water column during the summer period. Drift activity was very low during the winter period. Diel patterns were apparent; most species, including D. villosus, drifted during the night. Drifting macroinvertebrates colonised stony substrate directly from the water column. D. villosus generally colonised the substrate at night, while higher numbers of C. curvispinum colonised the substrate during the day. It is very likely that drifting functions as a dispersal mechanism for crustacean invaders. Once waterways are connected, these species are no longer necessarily dependent on dispersal vectors other than drift for extending their distribution range
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-827
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • corophium-curvispinum crustacea
  • lower mississippi river
  • ponto-caspian invader
  • fresh-water shrimps
  • small stony stream
  • dikerogammarus-villosus
  • macroinvertebrate drift
  • benthic invertebrates
  • field experiments
  • recent colonizer

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