The potential tropical island distribution of a temperate invasive snail, Oxychilus alliarius, modeled on its distribution in Hawaii

  • Patrick A. Curry
  • Norine W. Yeung
  • Kenneth A. Hayes
  • Robert H. CowieEmail author
Original Paper


Oceanic islands typically have very high levels of indigenous snail biodiversity when compared with continental land masses. The predatory snail Oxychilus alliarius, which has already been introduced to many places around the world, including some island groups, may have the potential to cause major declines in indigenous snails where it is established. Here we present the four best of 36 models that use O. alliarius presence and absence data from the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Hawaii to estimate habitat suitability on the six largest Hawaiian Islands, validating the estimates based on known distributions of O. alliarius on the other four islands (Molokai, Lanai, Oahu and Kauai). These models were further validated with data from four other islands around the world to which O. alliarius has been introduced. They were then applied to 31 tropical and subtropical islands and island groups around the world, on which O. alliarius has not been recorded, to predict the extent of suitable habitat on those islands and thus the potential for O. alliarius establishment should it be introduced. The results showed that there are islands with suitable O. alliarius habitat in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and in the Caribbean Sea, and that the four models make slightly different predictions based on which environmental variables they use. The models indicate that there is still a large amount of area on islands supporting indigenous snail species that is suitable for establishment of O. alliarius.


Climate change Endangered species Hawaii Land snail Oceanic islands Predation Species distribution models 



We thank Marty Meyer, Chuong Tran, Jaynee Kim, Travis Skelton, Kelsey Coleman, Torsten Durkan, Dylan Ressler, Kelley Leung, Deena Gary, Vince Costello, Jamie Tanino, Stephanie Joe, and David Sischo for help with surveys for O. alliarius in the Hawaiian Islands and the various landowners who granted permission to access their land. Andy Taylor and Chris Lepczyk reviewed early drafts of the paper. For information on O. alliarius in the Canary Islands we thank Heike Kappes and in Sri Lanka Fred Naggs. All research activities were completed with approval of the Natural Area Reserves Commission and with permits issued by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (FHM09-174, FHM11-264). Contribution numbers 10786 of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and 2019-009 of the Bishop Museum's Hawaii Biological Survey.


Funding was provided in part by Cooperative Agricultural Pest Surveys grants from the United States Department of Agriculture (04-8510-0796-CA, 05-8510-0796-CA, 06-8510-0796-CA, 07-8510-0796-CA, 08-8510-0796-CA, 09-8510-0796-CA), National Science Foundation award DEB-1120906, and a grant from the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Biosciences Research CenterUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA

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