Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 385–394 | Cite as

High tolerance to abiotic stressors and invasion success of the slow growing freshwater snail, Melanoides tuberculatus

Original Paper


Considerable research has been conducted to determine traits common to invasive species with the goal of predicting, preventing, or managing invasions. The importance of physiological tolerance to abiotic stressors in the ability of invasive species to establish and displace native species has been hypothesized to be important although there are few actual tests of the hypothesis in the literature. In freshwater molluscs it has been suggested that high fecundity is the most important trait for invasion success and that physiological tolerance to abiotic conditions is unlikely to play a significant role. We examined the tolerance to abiotic stressors using a known invasive snail species (Melanoides tuberculatus) that has a much slower growth rate and fecundity than a native species it has displaced (Biomphalaria glabrata). We tested the hypothesis that M. tuberculatus would have significantly greater tolerance to natural and anthropogenic abiotic stressors (cadmium, malathion, temperature extremes, and desiccation) which may provide a mechanism for displacement of B. glabrata. A time-to-event analysis was used to determine relative tolerance between species. M. tuberculatus was significantly more tolerant to the tested abiotic stressors than B. glabrata with the exception of low temperature (5°C). Stress tolerance may partly explain the ability of M. tuberculatus to displace B. glabrata despite having a much lower growth rate and fecundity. These results also suggest that M. tuberculatus is likely to have a strong advantage in disturbed or polluted habitats. Identifying those traits most important for the invasion success of particular species could be used to better inform removal strategies and may allow for improved predictions of invasion potential.


Snails r Strategy Tolerance Abiotic stressor Melanoides Biomphalaria 


  1. Allah AT, Wanas MWS, Thompson SN (1997) Effects of heavy metals on survival and growth of Biomphalaria glabrata Say (Gastopoda: Pulmonata) and interaction with schistosome infection. J Molluscan Stud 63:79–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alonso A, Castro-Diez P (2008) What explains the invading success of the aquatic mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum? Hydrobiologia 614:107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berry AJ, Kadri ABH (1974) Reproduction in the Malayan freshwater cerithiacean gastropod Melanoides tuberculata. J Zool 172:369–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Congdon JD, Dunham AE, Hopkins WA, Rowe CL, Hinton TG (2001) Resource allocation-based life histories: a conceptual basis for studies of ecological toxicology. Environ Toxicol Chem 20:1698–1703PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crooks JA, Chang AL, Ruiz GM (2011) Aquatic pollution increases the relative success of invasive species. Biol Invasions 13:165–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Devin S, Beisel J-N (2007) Biological and ecological characteristics of invasive species: a gammarid study. Biol Invasions 9:13–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dudgeon D (1982) Aspects of the desiccation tolerance of four species of benthic mollusca from plover cove reservoir, Hong Kong. Veliger 24:267–271Google Scholar
  8. Ellis-Tanabor M, Hyslop EJ (2007) Acute toxicity of endosulfan to three freshwater snails in Jamaica. Caribb J Sci 43:277–279Google Scholar
  9. Facon B, Machline E, Pointier JP, David P (2004) Variation in desiccation tolerance and its consequence for invasion ability. Biol Invasions 6:283–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fenwick A, Amin MA (1983) Marking snails with nail varnish as a field experimental technique. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 77:387–390PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Gerald GW, Spezzano LC Jr (2005) The influence of chemical cues and conspecific density on the temperature selection of a freshwater snail (Melanoides tuberculata). J Therm Biol 30:237–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Keller RP, Drake JM, Lodge DM (2007) Fecundity as a basis for risk assessment of nonindigenous freshwater mollusks. Conserv Biol 21:191–200PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ladd H (2010) The conservation of native snails within a Chihuahuan desert spring system. Thesis, Texas Tech UniversityGoogle Scholar
  14. Lawton JH, Brown KC (1986) The population and community ecology of invading insects. Philos Trans R Soc Lond: Ser B Biol Sci 314:607–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lodge DM (1993) Biological invasions: lessons for ecology. Trends Ecol Evol 8:133–137PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marchetti MP, Moyle PB, Levine R (2004a) Alien fishes in California watersheds: characteristics of successful and failed invaders. Ecol Appl 14:587–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Marchetti MP, Moyle PB, Levine R (2004b) Invasive species profiling? Exploring the characteristics of non-native fishes across invasion stages in California. Freshw Biol 49:646–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McMahon RF (2002) Evolutionary and physiological adaptations of invasive animals: r selection versus resistance. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 59:1235–1244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mitchell AJ, Brandt TM (2005) Temperature tolerance of the red-rimmed melania Melanoides tuberculatus, an exotic snail established in the United States. Trans Am Fish Soc 134:126–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pointier JP (1993) The introduction of Melanoides tuberculata (Mollusca: Thiaridae) to the island of Saint Lucia (West Indies) and its role in the decline of Biompahalaria glabrata, the snail intermediate host of Schistosoma mansoni. Acta Trop 54:13–18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pointier JP (1999) Invading freshwater gastropods: some conflicting aspects for public health. Malacologia 41:403–411Google Scholar
  22. Pointier JP, Toffart JL, Lefevre M (1991) Life tables of freshwater snails of the genus Biomphalaria (B. glabrata, B. alexandrina, and B. straminea) and one of its competitors Melanoides tuberculata under laboratory conditions. Malacologia 33:43–54Google Scholar
  23. Pointier JP, Theron A, Borel G (1993) Ecology of the introduced snail Melanoides tuberculata (Gastropoda: Thiaridae) in relation to Biomphalaria glabrata in the marshy forest zone of Guadeloupe, French West Indies. J Molluscan Stud 59:421–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pointier JP, Incani RN, Balzan C, Chrosciechowski P, Prypchan S (1994) Invasion of the rivers of the littoral central region of Venezuela by Thiara granifera and Melanoides tuberculata (Mollusca: Prosobranchia:Thiaridae). Nautilus 107:124–128Google Scholar
  25. Rader RB, Belk MC, Keleher MJ (2003) The introduction of an invasive snail (Melanoides tuberculata) to spring ecosystems of the Bonneville Basin, Utah. J Freshw Ecol 18:647–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ravera O (1977) Effects of heavy metals (cadmium, copper, chromium and lead) on a freshwater snail: Biomphalaria glabrata Say (Gastropoda, Prosobranchia). Malacologia 16:231–236PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Rose RI (2001) Pesticides and public health: integrated methods of mosquito management. Emerg Infect Dis 7:17–23PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Salice CJ, Roesijadi G (2002) Resistance to cadmium and parasite infection are inversely related in two strains of a freshwater gastropod. Environ Toxicol Chem 21:1398–1403PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. R Core Development Team (2010) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0. Available online:
  30. Therneau T, Lumley T (2009) Survival: Survival analysis, including penalized likelihood. R package version 2.35–2.4.
  31. Venables WN, Ripley BD (2002) Modern Applied Statistics with S, 4th edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Vianey-Liaud M, Dussart G (1994) Starvation, desiccation, and use of allosperm in the hermaphrodite freshwater snail Biomphalaria glabrata (Gastropoda: Pulmonata). J Molluscan Stud 60:255–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Weir SW, Salice CJ (2011) Managing the risk of invasive species: how well do functional traits determine invasion strategy and success? Integr Environ Assess Manag 7:299–300PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute of Environmental and Human Health, Department of Environmental ToxicologyTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

Personalised recommendations