Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Carrion consumption and its importance in a freshwater trophic generalist: the invasive apple snail Pomacea canaliculata

Lucía Saveanu A , Enzo Manara A and Pablo R. Martín A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A INBIOSUR (Universidad Nacional del Sur – Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas), Laboratorio de Ecología, Departamento de Biología, Bioquímica y Farmacia – Universidad Nacional del Sur, San Juan 670, 8000, Bahía Blanca, Argentina.

B Corresponding author. Email: pmartin@criba.edu.ar

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(4) 752-759 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF15304
Submitted: 8 August 2015  Accepted: 13 April 2016   Published: 1 July 2016

Abstract

Trophic flexibility is a relevant trait in the potential for organisms to establish widely, maintain high abundances and spread after invasion. Pomacea canaliculata is an apple snail that feeds primarily on aquatic macrophytes, although it also consumes other trophic resources that likely play an important role in its persistence and contribute to its effects in invaded wetlands. In the present study we determined the ingestion rates in P. canaliculata for carrion and subsequent effects on growth, and performed field and laboratory experiments to investigate the mechanism of carrion detection. We observed P. canaliculata snails of all sizes feeding on carrion. The specific ingestion rates of carrion decreased with snail size and were 20 times lower than when feeding on lettuce. The growth rates of snails feeding only on carrion were 15–30% higher than those of fasting snails and 30% of those snails feeding on lettuce or lettuce and carrion. We found no evidence of distant chemoreception of carrion. The importance of carrion for P. canaliculata is mostly as an alternative resource when its preferred food is absent, and not as a complementary resource that could enhance growth. Nevertheless, the ability of P. canaliculata to profit from carrion may help explain its potential to establish widely and to have effects on aquatic vegetation.

Additional keywords: Ampullariidae, gastropod, invasion, trophic ecology.


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