Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 945–955 | Cite as

Feeding and growth of native, invasive and non-invasive alien apple snails (Ampullariidae) in the United States: Invasives eat more and grow more

  • Wendy E. Morrison
  • Mark E. Hay
Original Paper


The United States hosts one native and five non-native species of aquatic apple snails (Ampullariidae). All are currently found in or around the Everglades in Florida. Two of these introduced species have devastated wetlands in Southeast Asia, but little is known about how they may impact the Everglades. To evaluate potential impacts of introduced apple snails relative to the native species, we investigated plant species preference, consumption rates, growth rates, and growth efficiencies in five introduced and the single native species across eight native macrophytes common in the Everglades. Three of the non-native snails are invasive, one has shown no tendency to expand, and one appears to have minimal direct impact on macrophytes due to its diet. All snails exhibited similar feeding preferences, with Utricularia sp. being the most preferred, Bacopa caroliniana, Sagittaria latifolia, and Nymphaea odorata being of intermediate preference, and Eleocharis cellulosa, Pontederia cordata, Panicum hemitomon and Typha sp. being least preferred (avoided as foods). Consumption and growth was minimal for P. diffusa on all macrophytes. On Utricularia sp. and Bacopa caroliniana, the invasive species Pomacea insularum and P. canaliculata tended to eat more, grow more, and have higher conversion efficiencies than the native P. paludosa or the non-invasive P. haustrum. These contrasts were more often significant for P. insularum than for P. canaliculata. The greater rates of expansion by the invasive species may derive from their enhanced feeding and growth rates.


Aquatic Consumption rates Exotic species Macrophyte Food choice 



Anya Brown, Zach Marion, and Krill Chernoff helped in the lab and field. Cynthia Guerra provided local expertise on South Florida. Chad Sexton helped with plant collections and provided P. insularum eggs from Georgia. Support provided via the National Science Foundation (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program) and the Harry and Linda Teasley endowment to Georgia Tech. Collection and transport of snails was conducted under Department of Agriculture permit number P526P-07-07248.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia Institute of Technology, School of BiologyAtlantaUSA

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