Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Invasive Snail Impacts Great Lakes, Alters Ecology

Date:
August 11, 2008
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Long a problem in the western US, the New Zealand mud snail currently inhabits four of the five Great Lakes and is spreading into rivers and tributaries, according to researchers. These tiny creatures out-compete native snails and insects, but are not good fish food replacements for the native species.

Long a problem in the western U.S., the New Zealand mud snail currently inhabits four of the five Great Lakes and is spreading into rivers and tributaries, according to a Penn State team of researchers. These tiny creatures out-compete native snails and insects, but are not good fish food replacements for the native species.

"These snails have an operculum, a door that closes the shell," says Edward P. Levri, associate professor of biology at Penn State's Altoona Campus. "They can be out of the water for longer than other snails and when fed to fish, they are not digested and sometimes come out alive. This has a potential to alter the salmon and trout fisheries because they alter the food chain."

The New Zealand mud snail grows to a maximum of a quarter of an inch and is more normally a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch in length. The hard shell is capable of sealing off the soft animal from outside influences. In New Zealand, the snails reproduce asexually, resulting in identical clones, or sexually. However, in invaded areas, asexual cloning is the only mode of reproduction.

This mud snail spread to England as early as 1850 and Europe in the late 1800s. It is found in Japan, but when the snail arrived there is unknown. The first mud snail found in the U.S. was in 1987 in the Snake River, Idaho, but the species did not appear in the east until 1991 in Lake Ontario. The western and eastern U.S. populations are separate episodes of introduction, because they represent different clones; in each case, only one snail needed to be introduced to begin the invasion. The snails in the Great Lakes region appear to be the same as one clone found in Europe.

"In the western U.S., this species is of special concern largely because of their ability to modify ecosystems," Levri told attendees August 8 at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting in Milwaukee.

The snails in western streams alter the nitrogen and carbon cycling. They are primarily grazers and detritus eaters with very wide food preferences. In some places in streams in Yellowstone National Park, they reach population densities of 323 individuals per square inch. Levri, working with undergraduates Warren J. Jacoby, Shane J. Lunen, Ashley A. Kelly and Thomas A. Ladson, found that densities in the Great Lakes are not anywhere near that in the West.

"In our most recent survey, we were lucky if we found a few hundred per square meter," says Levri. "In Lake Erie they are not very abundant, but it is unclear what they are doing 100 feet below the surface."

In New Zealand, the mud snails are not a problem because of native trematodes -- flukes -- that infect the snails and controls their population and reproduction. Some people have suggested that those who want to control the snail introduce this trematode to the U.S. to control the snails.

"There are two problems with introducing these trematodes," says Levri. "The first is that any introduction of a nonnative species can cause worse problems than they were expected to cure. The second is that these flukes have a multiple-host life cycle, infecting ducks that are apparently not affected before infecting the snails. This might work in the west where the snails are in shallow water, but no duck is going to dive 100 feet to get snails."

Levri and his team found that in Lake Ontario, the densities of the snails peak between 50 and 82 feet and they were rarely found in water less than 16 feet.

"What we can do is limit their expansion," says Levri. "That means that recreational water users must be very careful moving from one place to another. We advise anglers to freeze waders and fishing gear, or use Formula 409 or something like that to kill the snails."

He notes that signs are beginning to mark areas in New York where the snail is found to warn people to clean their gear.

The Penn State researcher warns that the snails are difficult to control, noting "I have frozen them for 12 hours at a time and about 50 percent of them survive."

The National Science Foundation supported this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Tiny Invasive Snail Impacts Great Lakes, Alters Ecology." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080808104916.htm>.
Penn State. (2008, August 11). Tiny Invasive Snail Impacts Great Lakes, Alters Ecology. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080808104916.htm
Penn State. "Tiny Invasive Snail Impacts Great Lakes, Alters Ecology." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080808104916.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

New Organic Fertilizer Helps Reforestation of Monarch Butterflies’ Winter Retreat

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Using an organic fertiliser, a conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), leads an award-winning project to reforest the sanctuary of monarch butterflies. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins