, Volume 614, Issue 1, pp 107–116 | Cite as

What explains the invading success of the aquatic mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum (Hydrobiidae, Mollusca)?

  • A. Alonso
  • P. Castro-Díez
Review article


The spread of non-native species is one of the most harmful and least reversible disturbances in ecosystems. Species have to overcome several filters to become a pest (transport, establishment, spread and impact). Few studies have checked the traits that confer ability to overcome these steps in the same species. The aim of the present study is to review the available information on the life-history and ecological traits of the mud snail, Potamopyrgus antipodarum Gray (Hydrobiidae, Mollusca), native from New Zealand, in order to explain its invasive success at different aquatic ecosystems around the world. A wide tolerance range to physico-chemical factors has been found to be a key trait for successful transport. A high competitive ability at early stages of succession can explains its establishment success in human-altered ecosystems. A high reproduction rate, high capacity for active and passive dispersal, and the escape from native predators and parasites explains its spread success. The high reproduction and the ability to monopolize invertebrate secondary production explain its high impact in the invaded ecosystems. However, further research is needed to understand how other factors, such as population density or the degree of human perturbation can modify the invasive success of this aquatic snail.


Potamopyrgus antipodarum Snail Tolerance Life-history traits Colonization Spread 



This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry DGCyT project ref. CGL2007-61873/BOS. Dr. Alvaro Alonso is currently supported by a postdoctoral contract from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Special thanks to Dr. Julio A. Camargo for his supervising the PhD of A. Alonso. Many ideas of this study has been came out during the predoctoral period of A. Alonso in the Department of Ecology at the University of Alcalá (Spain), and during his postdoctoral stay in the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group at the University of Wageningen (The Netherlands). We want to express our sincere gratitude to two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments to improve this work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management GroupUniversity of WageningenWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Departamento de EcologíaUniversidad de AlcaláMadridSpain

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