BIOTIC Species Information for Corbula gibba
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandCommon and widespread on all British coasts. The species is probably more widespread than mapped but records are not readily available.
Global distributionCorbula gibba is distributed from the Norwegian Sea south to the Iberian Peninsula, into the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and along the coast of West Africa to Angola.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional Information

Global distribution
Corbula gibba has spread and outside its native range. This species and its larvae can survive long periods in ballast water and can generate heavy or at least significant populations in foreign harbours. It is most likely that the presence of larvae in ballast water has resulted in the introduction of Corbula gibba into Australian waters in Port Phillip Bay (McEnnulty et al., 2001b). Its occurrence in Port Phillip was the first documented record of the species outside its area of natural distribution (Talman & Keough, 2001). The clam has subsequently been found in Portland, Western Port Bay in Victoria, Devonport and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel in Tasmania (CRIMP, 2000).

Corbula gibba is specialized for life in a substratum of muddy sand mixed with larger pieces of gravel and stone that are necessary for the planting of its single byssus thread (Yonge, 1946). This preference for muddy substrata was reported by Jones (1956). Jones (1956) recorded significant differences in the numbers of Corbula gibba between two sites in Port Erin on the Isle of Man. Higher numbers of Corbula gibba were recorded in areas of coarse muddy sand. In an area only 1/2 mile seawards from the previous site the sediments were fine and the numbers of Corbula gibba present were low (Jones, 1956). In the Adriatic Corbula gibba was completely absent in clean, sandy bottoms as it prefers some mud (Hrs-Brenko, 1981).

Preference for coarse muddy sand has also been seen in Port Philip Bay where Corbula gibba are rarely found in sediments that contain less than 10% mud (<63 µm). Below 15% mud there was a strong relationship between the percentage mud and the abundance of Corbula gibba (Parry & Cohen, 2001). Above 15 % mud there was no significant relationship between the abundance of Corbula gibba and percentage mud in the finer sediments (Parry & Cohen, 2001).

Water quality
Hrs-Brenko (1981) suggested that Corbula gibba thrives in eutrophic waters.

Salinity range
Corbula gibba has been recorded at the following salinities, 26 - 39 ppt in Port Phillip Bay (Talman, 2000: cited in NIMPIS, 2002), 28 - 34 ppt in Limfjord, Denmark, (Jensen, 1990), 27 - 32 ppt in Nissum Bredning, Denmark (Jensen, 1988) and 8.2-38.6 ppt in Elefsis Bay, Greece (Theodorou, 1994).

Substratum preferencesMixed
Muddy gravel
Muddy sand
Sandy mud
Gravel / shingle
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneLower Eulittoral
Sublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Wave exposureVery Exposed
Moderately Exposed
Very Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowStrong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityReduced (18-30 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
See additional Information
Full (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Tebble, 1976, Hrs-Brenko, 1981, Yonge, 1946, McEnnulty et al., 2001b, Jones, 1956, Parry & Cohen, 2001, NIMPIS, 2002, NBN, 2002, JNCC, 1999, Picton & Costello, 1998, Hayward & Ryland, 1990,
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