Relationships between the distribution and abundance of the invasive faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata) and environmental factors in Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands

Abstract

The faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata) was introduced to the Great Lakes region in the late 1800s. Faucet snails alter native community dynamics and are an intermediate host for multiple trematode parasites that can be lethal to waterfowl when the snails are consumed. Although faucet snails have been established in the Great Lakes for over a century, their populations appear to have remained small for most of this period and their known distribution was limited to the lower Great Lakes, though basin-wide surveys were lacking until recently, so snails may have gone undetected. We compiled data from a five-year coastal wetland monitoring program spanning all of the Great Lakes, providing a basin-wide inventory of faucet snail populations and confirming the snail’s presence in every Great Lake. Further, we identified potential drivers of faucet snail occurrence and abundance (individuals per sampling replicate) across the basin and within individual lakes to identify factors that could lead to elevated risk of range expansion. Across the basin and within individual lakes, faucet snail occurrence was related to human recreational transport (proximity to a boat launch) and eutrophication (anthropogenic land-use, elevated nutrient concentrations). In addition, at sites where faucet snails occurred, they were most abundant at wetlands with surrounding forest cover, suggesting that the species can thrive in a range of environmental conditions. Our results suggest that limiting passive transport of faucet snails is vital to minimizing their spread to remote wetlands where the snails may thrive once established.

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Acknowledgements

Funding for the wetland monitoring program was provided by the Great Lakes National Program Office under the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Grant Number GL-00E00612-0. Although the research described in this work has been partly funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it has not been subjected to the agency’s peer and policy review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. This paper is Contribution Number 126 of the Central Michigan University Institute for Great Lakes Research. We thank Alexandria Bozimowski, Bridget Wheelock, Laura Moore, Kylie McElrath, Dr. Valerie Brady, Gary Neuderfer, Greg Grabas, Dr. Joeseph Gathman, Dr. Lucinda Johnson, Dr. Gary Lamberti, Michael Brueseke, Jessica Kosiara, Dr. Doug Wilcox, and Dr. Ely Koznicki for providing field, laboratory, and editorial assistance.

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Correspondence to Donald G. Uzarski.

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Schock, N.T., Reisinger, A.J., Reisinger, L.S. et al. Relationships between the distribution and abundance of the invasive faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata) and environmental factors in Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Biol Invasions 21, 2613–2628 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-02000-1

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Keywords

  • Bithynia tentaculata
  • Faucet snail
  • Coastal wetland
  • Great Lakes
  • Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program