Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 375–383 | Cite as

The exotic aquatic mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum (Hydrobiidae, Mollusca): state of the art of a worldwide invasion

  • Álvaro Alonso
  • Pilar Castro-Díez


Biological invasions represent a relevant ecological and economic problem of our globalized world. While a few species have been classified as invasive due to their ecological and economic impacts on the invaded ecosystems (e.g., zebra mussel), others show contrasting invasive potential, depending on the invaded ecosystem and/or the traits of the exotic species. This paper reviews the worldwide distribution, ecological impacts and the reasons that explain the invasive success of the aquatic mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum Gray (Hydrobiidae, Mollusca), which is native to New Zealand. This review shows that most studies on P. antipodarum distribution have been conducted in Europe, North America and Australia, and few studies in Asia. The distribution of this snail is still unknown in other parts of the world (e.g., Africa, South and Central America). The range of invaded aquatic ecosystems varies from fresh to salt water and from lentic to lotic ecosystems. The ecological impact of this species is due to the fast population growth rate and to the extremely high densities that it can reach, leading to altered C and N cycles in invaded ecosystems. However, at low densities mud snails have been shown to enhance secondary production. Additionally, P. antipodarum has been found to overcome the negative effects of predators and parasites (e.g., it survives the pass through the digestive tracts of fish). This review contributes to assess the magnitude and ecological risk of P. antipodarum invasion throughout the world.


Alien species Aquatic ecosystem Distribution New Zealand mud snail Impact 



This research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (SMSI) (CGL2010-16388/BOS) and by the Castilla-La Mancha Community (POII10-0179-470). The University of Alcalá provided logistical support. Dr. Álvaro Alonso was supported by a Juan de la Cierva contract from the SMSI at University of Alcalá. We want to express our sincere gratitude to four anonymous reviewers for their comments to improve this manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de AlcaláMadridSpain

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