Temperature-induced plasticity in morphology and relative shell weight in the invasive apple snail Pomacea canaliculata.
Temperature has a great influence on the life-history traits of freshwater snails. In this study we investigated the long term effects of a range of temperatures on shell morphology of the apple snail Pomacea canaliculata, a highly invasive species and an important pest of rice. Analysis of shells using geometric morphometrics showed that the main source of morphological variation was allometry, which was detected in males but not in females. This intersexual divergence in allometric trajectories generates much of the morphological variation evidenced. In females, the monotonic relationship with temperature produced narrower shells in the snails reared at lower temperatures, and more expanded apertures, relatively bigger than the body whorl, at higher temperatures. We also found an inverse relationship between relative shell weight, a proxy for shell thickness, and temperature. The differences in shape and relative shell weight are attributable to the different growth rates associated with different temperatures. Temperature fluctuation around a mean of 23.2°C seemed to have no influence in shell shape and relative weight when is compared with a constant temperature of 25°C. Information on the influence of temperature on freshwater snails is important for understanding and predicting changes in the face of global climatic change, especially in traits exhibiting great plasticity, such as shell shape and thickness. This work showed that higher temperatures could result in a relatively thinner shell, implying a greater significance of corrosion in flowing waters and a lower resistance to crushing by predators, especially in low latitude areas.