Invasive species can monopolize resources and thus dominate ecosystem production. In this study we estimated secondary production and diet of four populations of Pomacea canaliculata, a freshwater invasive snail, in wetlands (abandoned paddy, oxbow pond, drainage channel, and river meander) in monsoonal Hong Kong (lat. 22°N). Apple snail secondary production (ash-free dry mass [AFDM]) ranged from 165.9 to 233.3 g m-2 year-1, and varied between seasons. Production was lower during the cool dry northeast monsoon, when water temperatures might have limited growth, but fast growth and recruitment of multiple cohorts were possible throughout much (7-10 months) of the year and especially during the warm, wet southwest monsoon. The diet, as revealed by stomach-content analysis, consisted mainly of detritus and macrophytes, and was broadly consistent among habitats despite considerable variation in the composition and cover of aquatic plants. Apple snail annual production was >10 times greater than production estimates for other benthic macroinvertebrates in Hong Kong (range 0.004-15 g AFDM m-2 year-1, n = 29). Furthermore, annual production estimates for three apple snail populations (i. e. >230 g AFDM m-2 year-1) were greater than published estimates for any other freshwater snails (range 0.002-194 g AFDM m-2 year-1, n = 33), regardless of climatic regime or habitat type. High production by P. canaliculata in Hong Kong was attributable to the topical climate (annual mean ~24°C), permitting rapid growth and repeated reproduction, together with dietary flexibility including an ability to consume a range of macrophytes. If invasive P. canaliculata can monopolize food resources, its high productivity indicates potential for competition with other macroinvertebrate primary consumers. Manipulative experiments will be needed to quantify these impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function in wetlands, combined with management strategies to prevent further range extension by P. canaliculata.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Apple snail
- Invasive species
- Secondary production