, Volume 812, Issue 1, pp 131–145 | Cite as

Limited effect of gizzard sand on consumption of the macrophyte Myriophyllum spicatum by the great pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

  • Elisabeth M. Gross
  • Paola LombardoEmail author


The sand stored in the gizzard of some freshwater snails should assist in the mechanical digestion of tough food, yet effects of gizzard sand on consumption of living macrophyte tissue are seldom addressed. We quantified the effects of gizzard sand both on consumption of plant tissue and on snail growth and reproduction with a cross-gradient, 28-day laboratory experiment. We offered apical shoot sections of Myriophyllum spicatum (initial ash content ~ 56%) or soft lettuce (ash content ~ 19%, as control) to Lymnaea stagnalis previously reared on sand or without sand. Gizzard sand had no effect on snail growth but sand-reared snails fed with lettuce initially produced more eggs than their no-sand counterparts. Snails fed M. spicatum exhibited stunted growth and produced only one small egg clutch. Shell height at time of first oviposition of M. spicatum-fed snails was two-thirds of that of lettuce-fed controls. Snails initially appeared to feed on periphyton and older, brownish M. spicatum leaflet tips, but later turned to midstem tissue. Fresh apices were not consumed. Gizzard sand had a limited effect on the ability of L. stagnalis to consume living M. spicatum, with apices likely defended chemically (polyphenols) and midstem tissue defended structurally (high ash content).


Submerged macrophytes Freshwater gastropods Herbivory Antiherbivore defenses 



The experiment was carried out during PL’s four-month stay at the University of Konstanz, D, funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Auswärtiges Amt) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with a special Grant for University of L’Aquila researchers following the earthquake that hit L’Aquila on 6 April 2009. PL also extends her thanks to the Head of the Limnological Institute at the University of Konstanz, Dr. Karl-Otto Rothhaupt, and to the EMG lab staff for their warm hospitality in Konstanz. We are also indebted to Dr. F. Paolo Miccoli (University of L’Aquila) for his help in egg counting. Constructive criticism by the handling Editor, Dr. E.S. Bakker (NIOO-KNAW), by two anonymous reviewers, as well as by Dr. Miccoli and Ms. Marit Mjelde (NIVA) greatly improved the quality of our manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Limnological InstituteUniversity of KonstanzConstanceGermany
  2. 2.Université de Lorraine, LIEC UMR 7360 CNRS, Rue Général Delestraint, Bâtiment IBISEMetzFrance
  3. 3.“M. Giustini” Ecology Lab, Coppito Science CenterUniversity of L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  4. 4.Limno ConsultingRomeItaly

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