Resistance to desiccation in aquatic invasive snails and implications for their overland dispersal.
At least 30 species of nonindigenous freshwater snails have invaded North America. The risk of these snails invading new lakes depends upon their ability to survive overland transport. We first reviewed published laboratory experiments using freshwater snails, which show numerous species are able to tolerate days of air exposure. We then tested tolerance to drying of three species of invasive aquatic snails that are widespread in Wisconsin: Bithynia tentaculata, Cipangopaludina chinensis, and Viviparus georgianus. In a series of seven experiments, we simulated boater transport by placing snails individually in mesh bags, hung outdoors, and confined in a screen tent. The screen roof allowed exposure to both sun and rain, and an on-site weather station recorded temperature, precipitation, and humidity. All three species exhibited high survivorship, with some individuals alive at the end of most experiments: 42 days for B. tentaculata and V. georgianus and 63 days for C. chinensis. Viable young were released by C. chinensis after 54 days of exposure. Overall, our results indicate that these invasive snails should readily survive long periods of transport overland, indicating a need for continued vigilance of recreational boaters entering lakes.