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Invasion of the New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam

Abstract

New Zealand mud snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) were first introduced to the United States in 1987 and have subsequently invaded water bodies across the United States. At high densities, P. antipodarum can outcompete native fauna, disrupt community interactions, and alter ecosystem function, making them a threat to aquatic habitats worldwide. In this paper, we detail the invasion, population dynamics, and secondary production of P. antipodarum at seven sites in the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam (0.8–49 km below the dam). New Zealand mud snails were first detected in the Green River in 2001. For more than a decade, densities of P. antipodarum in the Green River remained relatively low (< 1200 individuals m−2) at all sites. However, in 2015 densities started to increase dramatically at three sites below the dam, eventually reaching > 19,000 individuals m−2. Annual secondary production estimates of P. antipodarum for the year 2016 ranged from < 0.1 g m−2 yr−1 to 14.2 g m−2 yr−1. Furthermore, in terms of production, P. antipodarum was one of the dominant invertebrate taxa at six of the seven sites. Why densities dramatically increased after 2015 at only three of the seven sites remains unclear. Moreover, it is currently unknown whether populations of P. antipodarum in the Green River will undergo a “bust” period following their dramatic increase in density like populations of P. antipodarum in other river systems. Nevertheless, given the recent increases in densities of P. antipodarum and the relatively high rates of production at several sites, we recommend continued monitoring and suggest that attention be brought to the potential effects of New Zealand mud snails on the structure and function of the Green River ecosystem.

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Availability of data and material

The datasets generated during this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request and from the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) repository—urn:uuid:f0ccd7d7-05e0-4393–9478-d43b0d984a00.

Code availability

Not applicable.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the taxonomists of the National Aquatic Monitoring Center and the numerous field technicians responsible for data collection. We also thank David Strayer and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript.

Funding

Funding was provided by the Western Area Power Administration and Argonne National Laboratory.

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DN and TWA conceived the idea for the study. DN analyzed the data and led the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed critically to drafts and gave approval for publication.

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Correspondence to Daniel Nelson.

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Nelson, D., Armstrong, T.W. Invasion of the New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam. Biol Invasions 24, 775–785 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02693-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02693-3

Keywords

  • Dam
  • Green River
  • Invasion
  • New Zealand mud snail
  • Potamopyrgus antipodarum
  • Secondary production