Effects of absolute fasting on reproduction and survival of the invasive apple snail Pomacea canaliculata in its native range.
A South American freshwater gastropod, the apple snail Pomacea canaliculata, has become a driver of ecosystemic changes in wetlands and an important rice pest after its introduction to various parts of the world, mainly Asia. The objective of this study was to study the effect of an abrupt interruption in food availability in the short term (up to 4 weeks) and long term (up to 8 months) on survival and reproductive activity. The main results indicate that short-term fasting mainly affects the survival of males, but only when they are raised together with females, probably due to a greater mate-searching activity that increases mortality in the individuals with lower reserves. The number of copulating snails or egg-laying females shows an abrupt drop when fasting and a rapid recovery after the food supply is restored. The strategy of discontinuing reproductive activity prioritizes energy conservation for the survival of the females. Interpopulation variation in resistance to starvation was observed in adults, which can be explained to some extent by the food availability that they experienced in their natural environment. No interpopulational differences in survival were seen in hatchlings. The mean maximum values of survival under starvation were 52.6 days in hatchlings and the 3.3% of adults survive over than 200 days, which may be a relevant trait in dispersal and establishment in new habitats.