The recent decline of apple snail (Pomacea paludosa) populations in canals surrounding Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Florida coincided with the use of copper-diquat for the control of the aquatic weed hydrilla (Hydrilla ver/icillara). Field and laboratory studies were designed to assess the effects of copper-diquat on apple snails, which are the primary food of the endangered snail kite Rostrhamus sociabilis (formerly known as the Everglade kite). Acute toxicities (96-h LC50 values) of Cutrine-Plus and Komeen (chelated formulations of copper) to immature apple snails were 22 and 241-?g/L, respectively. Diquat was toxic at a concentration of 1,800 I-?g/L and did not increase the toxicity of copper when the chemicals were used in combination. Evaluation of field samples indicated that copper concentrations were higher in detritus than in water. plants and mud, and that there was a gradient of copper concentration from the canal to the interior, the highest residues being in samples from the canal. Copper associated with detritus (up to 150 ?g/g) had no effect on growth or survival of apple snails in field cage and tank studies. Also, field applications of copper.diquat to hydrilla had no effect on survival of caged adult and immature snails. Copper from field applications was rapidly taken out of solution by plants and organic material in the water and subsequently incorporated into the bottom detritus. Although the effects of repeated applications of copper-diquat and high body burdens of copper (accumulated during exposure to herbicidal treatment) on survival and reproduction of apple snails are not known, the information available indicates that treatment of hydrilla with copper-diquat was probably not responsible for the decline in the apple snail population. Application at recommended rates should pose no threat to these snails in the organically rich waters of southern Florida.
Additional publication details
Field and laboratory evaluation of the influence of copper-diquat on apple snails in southern Florida