Potential threats of the exotic apple snail Pomacea insularum to aquatic ecosystems in Georgia and Florida
Robertson, Shelley Marie
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The Island apple snail, Pomacea insularum is a freshwater gastropod in the family Ampullaridae. It was introduced into the United States via the aquarium trade approximately 30 years ago and now has established reproducing populations in at least seven southeastern states. It is a highly invasive species with high rates of reproduction and consumption of native aquatic vegetation. A survey of reported Georgia populations confirmed that there are at least ten individual occurrences of exotic apple snails in the state, and that they have not reached their equilibrium distribution. We also investigated the ability of P. insularum to harbor a cyanotoxin that may be detrimental to its avian predator in Florida, the endangered Florida snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis). The invasive P. insularum transferred the undescribed cyanotoxin associated with Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy to domestic chickens in a laboratory feeding study.