In this study, we examine salinity stress tolerances of two populations of the invasive species New Zealand mud snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum, one population from a high salinity environment in the Columbia River estuary and the other from a fresh water lake. In 1996, New Zealand mud snails were discovered in the tidal reaches of the Columbia River estuary that is routinely exposed to salinity at near full seawater concentrations. In contrast, in their native habitat and throughout its spread in the western US, New Zealand mud snails are found only in fresh water ecosystems. Our aim was to determine whether the Columbia River snails have become salt water adapted. Using a modification of the standard amphipod sediment toxicity test, salinity tolerance was tested using a range of concentrations up to undiluted seawater, and the snails were sampled for mortality at daily time points. Our results show that the Columbia River snails were more tolerant of acute salinity stress with the LC50 values averaging 38 and 22 Practical Salinity Units for the Columbia River and freshwater snails, respectively. DNA sequence analysis and morphological comparisons of individuals representing each population indicate that they were all P. antipodarum. These results suggest that this species is salt water adaptable and in addition, this investigation helps elucidate the potential of this aquatic invasive organism to adapt to adverse environmental conditions.
Additional publication details
Salinity adaptation of the invasive New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in the Columbia River estuary (Pacific Northwest, USA): physiological and molecular studies