Invasion and production of New Zealand mud snails in the Colorado River, Glen Canyon

Wyatt F. Cross, Emma J. Rosi-Marshall, Kathrine E. Behn, Theodore A. Kennedy, Robert O. Hall, A. Elizabeth Fuller, Colden V. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Species invasions are often associated with large-scale human alteration of ecosystems. One classic example is the increasing dominance of non-native taxa below and above dams on large rivers. These dams substantially alter the physical template of river ecosystems, and exotic taxa often proliferate with potentially large impacts on coexisting taxa and ecosystem processes. Here we document the invasion of New Zealand mud snails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in the Colorado River directly below Lake Powell in Glen Canyon, Arizona, USA. We also quantified the magnitude and variability in growth and secondary production of P. antipodarum during 2006-2007 to gain a functional measure of their role in the ecosystem. Snails were first detected in Glen Canyon in 1995, and have since become a dominant component of the invertebrate fauna. Throughout the invasion of P. antipodarum, biomass of other dominant taxa was variable and did not appear to be positively or negatively influenced by the presence of P. antipodarum. Specific growth rates of P. antipodarum were moderate (0.001-0.030 day-1) and strongly related to body size. Mean annual habitat-weighted biomass and production were relatively high (biomass: 4.4 g/m2; secondary production: 13.3 gm-2 year-1) and similar among habitats. Mean monthly biomass and daily secondary production were much more variable, with highest values occurring in autumn. We show that invasion of a productive aquatic consumer to a highly disturbed river ecosystem had little detectable influence on the biomass of other invertebrate taxa. However, additional research will be necessary to fully understand and predict effects of P. antipodarum on coexisting taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3033-3043
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2010


  • Colorado River
  • Dam
  • Exotic species
  • Nonnative species
  • Potamopyrgus antipodarum
  • Secondary production


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