Relative vulnerability of six freshwater gastropods to the leech Nephelopsis obscura (Verrill)

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SUMMARY. 1. The vulnerability of six species of freshwater snails to the leech Nephelopsis obscura was determined in laboratory predation experiments. 2. Nephelopsis was unable to prey on prosobranch snails with an operculum, but did consume certain pulmonate species though predation rates were low, ranging from one to two snails per leech per night at 20°C. Apparently, Nephelopsis does not actively select prey, but merely consumes those species most easily handled. 3. Among pulmonates, leeches captured species in the following order: Physa gyrina (Say), Helisoma anceps (Menke). Lymnaea emarginata (Say) and Helisoma trivolvis (Say). Susceptibihty of size classes varied among snail species. 4. Neither environmental structure, such as cobble or macrophytes, nor gastropod escape behaviors, such as clamping to substrates or vertical migration away from bottom‐feeding leeches, lowered capture rates by Nephelopsis. 5. In 2 years sampling, only one of seven lakes, however, had appreciable abundances of Nephelopsis. It is therefore suggested that the rarity, low feeding rates, and lack of strong gastropod preference limit the effect of Nephelopsis on field gastropod distributions. Copyright © 1988, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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Freshwater Biology

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