Complex interactions among fish, snails and macrophytes: Implications for biological control of an invasive snail

  • Wong P
  • Kwong K
  • Qiu J
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Abstract

The golden apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata), a native of freshwater wetlands of South America, has invaded many Asian countries and grazed heavily in agricultural and wild areas. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been proposed as a biological control agent against this snail, but little is known about its impact on non-target aquatic plants and animals. In a 8-week enclosure experiment, we quantified the impact of common carp on three species of aquatic macrophytes and nine species of snails, including the apple snail, in a shallow pond. The results showed that the apple snail or carp alone significantly reduced the plant biomass, although the apple snail had a stronger overall herbivorous effect than the carp. The carp completely removed juvenile apple snails, but had only a weak predatory effect on larger apple snails and no effect on the adults' oviposition frequency. Furthermore, the carp significantly reduced the populations of most species of other snails that occurred naturally in the pond. Our results thus indicate that common carp can be an effective biological control agent against the invasive apple snail, but caution should be taken about its potential to reduce wetland floral and faunal diversity. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Apple snail
  • Biological control
  • Common carp
  • Herbivory
  • Wetland

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