Density-dependent growth and reproduction of the apple snail, Pomacea canaliculata: a density manipulation experiment in a paddy field
To examine density dependence in the survival, growth, and reproduction of Pomacea canaliculata, we conducted an experiment in which snail densities were manipulated in a paddy field. We released paint-marked snails of 15–20 mm shell height into 12 enclosures (pens) of 16 m2 at one of five densities – 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 snails per pen. The survival rate of released snails was 95% and was independent of snail density. The snail density had a significant effect on the growth and egg production of individual snails. This density dependence may have been caused by reduced food availability. The females at high density deposited fewer and smaller egg masses than those at low density, and consequently produced fewer eggs. The females at densities 8 and 16 deposited more than 3000 eggs per female, while the females at density 128 oviposited only 414 eggs. The total egg production per pen was, however, higher at higher snail density. The survival rates of juvenile snails were 21%–37% and were independent of adult density. The juvenile density was positively correlated with the total egg production per pen and hence was higher at higher adult density. However, the density of juveniles larger than 5 mm in shell height, i.e., juveniles that can survive an overwintering period, was not significantly different among density treatments. These results suggest that snail density after the overwintering period is independent of the density in the previous year. Thus, density dependence in growth and reproduction might regulate the population of P. canaliculata in paddies.
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