Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1591–1605 | Cite as

Distribution and community-level effects of the Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis) in northern Wisconsin lakes

  • Christopher T. Solomon
  • Julian D. Olden
  • Pieter T. J. Johnson
  • Robert T. DillonJr.
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
Original Paper


Managing invasive species requires information about their distributions and potential effects, but community-level impacts of invasive animals remain poorly understood. The Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis) is a large invasive gastropod that achieves high densities in waters across North America, yet little is known about its ecological significance in invaded systems. We surveyed 44 lakes to describe the patterns and determinants of B. chinensis distributions in northern Wisconsin, USA, and to assess the likelihood of effects on native snail communities in the invaded systems. B. chinensis was widespread among surveyed lakes (21 of 42 lakes with snails) and its occurrence was correlated with indicators of lake productivity and anthropogenic dispersal vectors (boat landings, distance to population centers, shoreline housing density). Some native snail species tended not to occur at sites where B. chinensis was abundant; among these was Lymnaea stagnalis, which suffered reduced survival in the presence of B. chinensis in a recently published mesocosm study. However, there was no difference in overall snail assemblage structure at either the site or lake level as a function of B. chinensis presence or abundance. Lake occurrences of many snail species have apparently been lost over time, but a comparison to a 1930s survey showed that there was no increased likelihood of species loss in lakes invaded by B. chinensis (or by the invasive crayfish Orconectes rusticus). Although B. chinensis is widespread and sometimes abundant in northern Wisconsin lakes, it does not appear to have strong systematic impacts on native snail assemblages.


Gastropoda Viviparidae Biogeography Cipangopaludina Bellamya japonica 



We thank K. Langree and E. Vennie-Volrath for conducting the surveys. T. Kratz and the Trout Lake Station staff supported the field work in a number of ways, and conducted the regional surveys from which we derived some of our data. B. Fahey and S. Jones provided helpful statistical suggestions, L. Kursel and J. Maxted assisted with statistical and GIS analyses, and J. Jass provided information about occurrence records. This work was funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to C. Solomon, by grants from the Department of Zoology and the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin (including a Carl A. Bunde award, an Anna Grant Birge award, and a Juday fellowship), by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and by the North-Temperate Lake Long-Term Ecological Research (NTL-LTER) Program.

Supplementary material

10530_2009_9572_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.4 mb)
(DOC 2504 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher T. Solomon
    • 1
  • Julian D. Olden
    • 2
  • Pieter T. J. Johnson
    • 3
  • Robert T. DillonJr.
    • 4
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for LimnologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  2. 2.School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyCollege of CharlestonCharlestonUSA

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