Predation and the distribution and abundance of a pulmonate pond snail

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The abundances of a freshwater pulmonate snail, Lymnaea elodes were studied in a temporary pond and a permanent, more productive pond in northeastern Indiana, USA. When snails from both populations were reared in each of the ponds in containers excluding predators, snails grew to be 1.3 to 2 times as large in the more productive pond, and laid 9 times as many eggs. However, field sampling data showed adults to be more abundant in the temporary pond. The only obvious difference between the two ponds was the presence of the molluscivorous central mudminnow (Umbra limi) in the permanent pond. These fish fed upon L. elodes when eggs and juvenile snails were abundant. In an experiment in the temporary pond, addition of mudminnows lowered egg and juvenile snail survival in pens where snail abundances had been increased. We suggest that vertebrate predators like the mudminnow can be significant sources of mortality for thin shelled species like L. elodes, possibly excluding them from habitats like lakes and rivers. © 1985 Springer-Verlag.

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