Highly invasive snail species reported in Kerala
- A tiny snail with a striking, pellucid golden-yellow shell found in the Edappally canal in Kochi has been flagged as an invasive species.
- This is the first time that this snail has been reported in the State.
- As per the CUSAT study it also draws attention to the threat posed by invasive species to global biodiversity.
What are Invasive species?
- Invasive species or invasive exotics are the non-native or non-indigenous plants and animals that affect the habitats and bioregions they invade economically, environmentally and ecologically.
Features of the newly discovered species:
- What makes its discovery worrying is that it plays host to worms that can cause food-borne diseases and skin itches in humans.
- Moreover, its rapid growth rate, air-breathing capability, and tolerance to pollution make the Physella acuta a potential competitor to native fauna.
- Native to North America: First described by J.P.R. Draparnaud in 1805, Physella acuta is considered native to North America but is now found in all continents except Antarctica.
- The snail was first reported in India in the early 1990s.
- It is believed to have reached Kerala through the aquarium trade, a major vector for invasive species.
- Edappally canal: the snail had made its home in a highly polluted reach plagued by high sedimentation, untreated sewage, commercial effluents, construction wastes and a thick growth of invasive aquatic weeds.
- Characteristics: Small in size, the snail can grow to 16 mm in height and 9 mm in width. The dead, vacant shell is brownish-yellow while that of the live individuals are translucent golden-yellow with a mottled appearance.
- Threat to global biodiversity: The study also draws attention to the threat posed by invasive species to global biodiversity; how their ability to quickly dominate new environments endangers native species, even causing serious economic loss.
- Dominating a region: They disrupt by dominating a region and disrupting the natural equilibrium.
- An alteration in the genetic pool: is a major threat by the invasive species.
- The ability to reproduce both asexually and sexually
- Fast growth
- Rapid reproduction
- High dispersal ability
- Tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions
- Ability to live off of a wide range of food types.