The movement of species is among the most serious environmental threats of the new millennium, as the transplantation of species beyond their native or historical range has intensified in the last five decades. Traditionally, studies on bioinvasions have focused on species that have been introduced, deliberately or accidentally, to biogeographic regions where they did not previously occur. However, less attention has been given to species movement to novel areas within the same biogeographic region. Our research group, the South America Introduced Molluscs Specialists, analyzed potential cases of native South American mollusc species introduced deliberately or accidentally beyond their natural range within South America. To achieve this, it is key to differentiate between anthropogenic processes and passive responses to environmental conditions. We considered the past and current spatial distribution of species, analyzed known or putative vectors, and discuss the impacts of taxonomic and nomenclatural knowledge. Based on the evidence currently available, we propose different scenarios to explain observed changes in mollusc distributions within South America. Seventeen transplanted mollusc species (TMS) were recognized, considering marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. Of the 189 South American ecoregions 31 were occupied by transplanted species, but this proportion varied by environment: 10 of 28 marine ecoregions, 12 of 52 freshwater ecoregions, and 9 of 109 terrestrial ecoregions. The ecoregions with TMS are generally located in the peripheral zones of the continent. Those with the highest number of TMS were the Southern Caribbean (three species) in the marine environment, the Central Andean Pacific Slopes (three species) in the freshwater environment, and the Alto Paraná Atlantic forests (two species) in the terrestrial environment. The number of unintentionally moved TMS is greater than those moved intentionally. The transplantation process is similar to the introduction and settlement process of non-native mollusc species, and so is their impact.
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© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
- Range expansion