Extremely high secondary production of introduced snails in rivers

Robert O. Hall, Mark F. Dybdahl, Maria C. VanderLoop

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169 Scopus citations


The functional importance of invasive animals may be measured as the degree to which they dominate secondary production, relative to native animals. We used this approach to examine dominance of invertebrate secondary production by invasive New Zealand mudsnails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in rivers. We measured secondary production of mudsnails and native invertebrates in three rivers in the Greater Yellowstone Area (Wyoming, USA): Gibbon River, Firehole River, and Polecat Creek. Potamopyrgus production was estimated by measuring in situ growth rates and multiplying by monthly biomass; native invertebrate production was estimated using size frequency and instantaneous growth methods. Mudsnail growth rates were high (up to 0.06 d-1) for juvenile snails and much lower for adult females (0.003 d-1). Potamopyrgus production in Polecat Creek (194 g·m-2·yr-1) was one of the highest values ever reported for a stream invertebrate. Native invertebrate production ranged from 4.4 to 51 g·m-2·yr-1. Potamopyrgus was the most productive taxon and constituted 65-92% of total invertebrate productivity. Native invertebrate production was low in all streams. Based on a survey of production measures from uninvaded rivers, the distribution of secondary production across taxa was much more highly skewed toward the invasive dominant Potamopyrgus in the three rivers. We suggest that this invasive herbivorous snail is sequestering a large fraction of the carbon available for invertebrate production and altering food web function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1131
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Biological invasion
  • Firehole River
  • Gibbon River
  • Greater Yellowstone Area
  • Invasive species
  • Invertebrates
  • New Zealand mudsnail
  • Polecat Creek
  • Potamopyrgus antipodarum
  • Secondary production


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