The enemy release hypothesis postulates that non-native species establish and become abundant because coevolved enemies from the native range are missing or greatly reduced in the introduced range. We assessed whether the invasive New Zealand mud snail, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, is released from castrating trematode parasites by comparing prevalence and diversity of trematode parasites in P. antipodarum and co-occurring native snails in the western United States. Consistent with the enemy release hypothesis (1) P. antipodarum was not infected by trematodes at 80% of the sites and, relative to native snails, had low prevalence (4–5%) at the remaining sites, (2) across all sites, mean prevalence of trematodes was nine times lower in P. antipodarum than in co-occurring native snails and, (3) P. antipodarum were infected by half or fewer of the trematode taxa that infected co-occurring native snails. Taken together, our results suggest that fewer trematode infections and fewer trematode taxa in P. antipodarum could contribute to the success of this invasive snail. However, despite the large geographic scale of our survey (32 rivers sampled) and the large number of sites that we visited (n = 82), few sites had either enough snails or trematode parasites in native snails to be informative. Thus, our conclusions are based on a small number of sites (n = 10).
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We thank Daniel Greenwood, Kara Wise, and Megan Bochanski for help in the field collection and in the laboratory. We are also grateful to Robert Hall, Edward Levri, Lusha Tronstand, Tim Collier, and Annika Walters and two anonymous reviewers for comments that have greatly improved this manuscript. Special thanks to the University of Wyoming-National Park Service Research Station for lodging during the 2014 and 2015 field seasons. We are also grateful for funding from a Berry Graduate Research Grant and the University of Wyoming Faculty Grant-in-Aid.
This study was funded by a University of Wyoming Berry Graduate Research Grant and by a University of Wyoming Faculty Grant-in-Aid.
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Larson, M.D., Krist, A.C. Trematode prevalence and an invasive freshwater snail: fewer infections and parasites likely contribute to the success of an invasive snail. Biol Invasions 22, 1279–1287 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-019-02179-3
- Snail-trematode interactions
- Parasite prevalence
- Potamopyrgus antipodarum
- Aquatic snails
- Community comparison approach