Development of Biological Control for the New Zealand Mud Snail

Start/End: February, 2010 to January, 2011

This project investigates the potential use of a castrating trematode parasite (Microphallus spp.) as a biological control agent for New Zealand mud snails, which have invaded rivers and streams in the Western United States. In the first phase of the project (R/ANS-210), scientists evaluated the parasite’s effectiveness at halting the snail’s reproduction. The second year’s objectives are to further investigate the parasite’s efficacy and host specificity. To do this, they will travel to Australia, where both the mud snail and parasite were introduced inadvertently, to verify that increased infection is associated with reduced snail populations in the field. They will also investigate whether the parasite is infecting non-target native Australian snails. In a
secure laboratory, North American mollusks will be exposed to the parasite to ensure it cannot infect native biota. A public outreach campaign will be launched if biological control proves justifiable.

  • University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Co-principal Investigators