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

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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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
StatePublished - 2019

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