Prime waterfront real estate:Apple snails choose wild taro for oviposition sites

Colin H. Kyle, Alexis W. Kropf, Romi L. Burks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


While difficult to prevent introductions, scientific research can help guide control efforts of exotic, invasive species. South American island apple snails Pomacea insularum have quickly spread across the United States Gulf Coast and few control measures exist to delay their spread. Usually occupying cryptic benthic habitats, female apple snails crawl out of the water to deposit large, bright pink egg clutches on emergent objects. To help identify the most likely place to find and remove clutches, we conducted four lab experiments to investigate what specific object qualities (i.e. material; shape and height; plant species; natural and artificial) attracted P. insularum females to lay clutches. In our fourth experiment, we specifically examined the relationship between female size and reproductive output. To further understand reproductive output, we quantified experimental clutch characteristics (height above water, dimensions, mass, approximate volume, number of eggs, hatching efficiency). Pomacea insularum females laid more clutches on plant material, chose round over flat surfaces and failed to differentiate between tall and short structures. In comparison to a common native plant in the eastern US, Pontederia cordata, snails clearly preferred to lay clutches on a widely distributed exotic, invasive plant (wild taro, Colocasia esculenta). Unexpectedly, smaller snails showed higher overall total fecundity as well as more eggs per clutch than larger snails. Therefore, hand removal efforts of large females may not be enough to slow down clutch production. Collectively, our results indicate that conservationists and managers should search emergent plants for P. insularum clutches carefully to guard against established populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-641
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Colocasia
  • Facilitation
  • Fecundity
  • Reproduction
  • Substrate
  • Wild taro

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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