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Technical Report

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New Zealand mudsnail -- Environmental aspects, Invasive aquatic organisms, Aquatic ecology -- Research -- United States, Estuarine ecology


The New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum; NZMS) is an invasive species found in a variety of ecosystems in Oregon, including brackish estuaries, heavily used recreational rivers, and highly trafficked coastal freshwater lakes. NZMS are an invasive species of concern because once established, they may out-compete native invertebrate grazers, such as native insect larvae that provide important food resources for fish, and NZMS themselves provide little nutritional value. Monitoring for the presence and population density of NZMS was performed at boat ramps located along several water bodies in 2006 – 2007. These water bodies were then re-sampled during the summer of 2012 and winter of 2013 to investigate changes in population densities, as well as the potential spread of NZMS. In addition, six brackish estuaries and six freshwater coastal lakes were sampled in the summer of 2013 once again for population densities but also for stable isotope analysis to better understand the influence NZMS may have on these different ecosystem food webs. This work addresses how NZMS densities differ across invaded sites, how densities vary over time, how community diversity in rivers and estuaries varies between sites and over time, whether there is a correlation between NZMS densities and invertebrate diversity, and whether NZMS density correlates with decreasing dietary specificity for competing benthic invertebrates. Samples were sorted, identified, and counted, and stable isotope analyses from the summer 2013 field season were conducted on macroinvertebrates, zooplankton, and primary producers at the UC Davis Stable Isotope Facility. NZMS densities were found to be dynamic, with population densities increasing and decreasing over time and space. Additionally, two waterbodies (the lower Siuslaw River and the Nestucca River Estuary) previously without reported NZMS presence were identified to have established NZMS populations. Across invaded sites during the 2006 and 2012 sampling periods, there was a strong negative correlation between NZMS density and the diversity of the benthic invertebrate community. Within sites, no significant correlation was detected. High NZMS population densities were found to have a significantly negative relationship with detritivore density populations in the freshwater lake sites sampled in the summer of 2013. There were no significant relationships between NZMS and the density of any particular macroinvertebrate feeding habit group in estuaries. Additionally, stable isotope analyses indicated that NZMS at high population densities in the freshwater lakes share a similar stable isotope signature with macroinvertebrate herbivores, but NZMS had a more specific or narrow dietary range suggesting macroinvertebrate herbivores had more generalized diets than NZMS when at high densities. Conversely, NZMS population densities in the brackish estuary ecosystems showed no discernable patterns from the stable isotope analyses to indicate that their presence, either at high or low density, had an effect on the estuarine food webs. We concluded that continued research on long term population dynamics of invasive species like NZMS and their effects on native food webs remain crucial to future management and mitigation.


Final Report prepared by Valance Brenneis, Sam Cimino, and Angela Strecker for Oregon State Marine Board funded by Aquatic Invasive Species grant to the Aquatic Bioinvasions Research and Policy Institute Portland State University

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