Population Ecology

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 227–237 | Cite as

Stage- and weather-dependent dispersal in the brown garden snail Cornu aspersum

Original article


Dispersal decisions are often condition-dependent, influenced by the interaction of individual phenotype and environmental conditions. Terrestrial Gastropods are simultaneous hermaphrodites, a reproductive system rarely studied in the context of dispersal. Moreover, the energetic cost of their movement is one of the highest among animals. Despite these features, which make them valuable models to understand the trade-offs between dispersal and other life-history traits, their dispersal strategies have been barely explored. We studied the movements of subadults and adults of the brown garden snail Cornu aspersum in a semi-natural 4-patch network, for 2 months in 2011 (a dry year) and 1 month in 2012 (a wet year). We assessed the effects of life-history stage (subadult/adult) and weather conditions on dispersal propensity and dispersal speed. Snails were more mobile under humid and warm weather, but nearly all individuals left patches when the relative humidity was close to 100 % in 2012. Because such humidity levels are potentially lethal to C. aspersum, we argue these extreme emigration rates might be an emergency escape response to harmful conditions. Despite a theoretically higher cost of movement, we found that subadults emigrated more, and dispersed faster and further, than adults. Thus, and contrary to what was expected, direct costs of movement do not play the main role in shaping dispersal in C. aspersum. Observed differences between subadults and adults in dispersal behaviour are discussed in the context of intraspecific competition, inbreeding avoidance and relative costs of male and female reproduction.


Dispersal distances Helix aspersa Life-history strategies Natal dispersal Phenotype-dependent dispersal 

Supplementary material

10144_2013_407_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (353 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 352 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université de Rennes 1, UMR CNRS 6553 EcobioRennes CedexFrance

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