Physiology of the invasive apple snail Pomacea maculata: tolerance to low temperatures.
Apple snails of the genus Pomacea native to South America have invaded and become established in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Both the channeled apple snail Pomacea canaliculata and the island apple snail Pomacea maculata have been reported in the United States. The two species are difficult to distinguish using morphological characters, leading to uncertainty about the identity of the animals from populations in the United States. Because the snails are subtropical, their tolerance of low temperatures is a critical factor in limiting the spread of the animals from present localities along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to more northern areas. The tolerance of P. maculata collected in Louisiana to temperatures as low as 0°C was examined. There was no mortality among animals maintained in water at temperatures of 20°C or 15°C for 10 days. Survival of animals during a 10-day exposure to water at temperatures 10°C and 5°C was 50%. The LD 50 for a 10-day exposure was 7°C. Snails did not survive more than 5 days in liquid water at 0°C. Ammonia excretion by animals in temperatures of 20°C and 15°C was comparable to values reported for freshwater gastropods; at very low temperatures, excretion of ammonia was decreased. There was no difference in the mean values of the osmolality of the hemolymph of animals exposed to 20°C, 15°C and 10°C for 10 days. Sequencing of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 identified the animals in the Louisiana population used in this study as P. maculata.