Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Feeding and growth of native, invasive and non-invasive alien apple snails (Ampullariidae) in the United States: invasives eat more and grow more.

Abstract

The United States hosts one native and five non-native species of aquatic apple snails (Ampullariidae). All are currently found in or around the Everglades in Florida. Two of these introduced species have devastated wetlands in Southeast Asia, but little is known about how they may impact the Everglades. To evaluate potential impacts of introduced apple snails relative to the native species, we investigated plant species preference, consumption rates, growth rates, and growth efficiencies in five introduced and the single native species across eight native macrophytes common in the Everglades. Three of the non-native snails are invasive, one has shown no tendency to expand, and one appears to have minimal direct impact on macrophytes due to its diet. All snails exhibited similar feeding preferences, with Utricularia sp. being the most preferred, Bacopa caroliniana, Sagittaria latifolia, and Nymphaea odorata being of intermediate preference, and Eleocharis cellulosa, Pontederia cordata, Panicum hemitomon and Typha sp. being least preferred (avoided as foods). Consumption and growth was minimal for P. diffusa on all macrophytes. On Utricularia sp. and Bacopa caroliniana, the invasive species Pomacea insularum and P. canaliculata tended to eat more, grow more, and have higher conversion efficiencies than the native P. paludosa or the non-invasive P. haustrum. These contrasts were more often significant for P. insularum than for P. canaliculata. The greater rates of expansion by the invasive species may derive from their enhanced feeding and growth rates.