Gastropod-halophyte interactions



    Littoraria climbing stems of Spartina alterniflora

The marsh periwinkle, Littoraria irrorata, and the salt marsh snail, Melampus bidentatus, are common in Western Atlantic salt marshes and can be very abundant in vegetated zones. Dr. Keith Walters, Department of Marine Science, myself, and several graduate and undergraduate students have been studying the ecology of these snails. We have found surprisingly high abundance and biomass of Littoraria in the high marsh of several SC inlets (Hutchens and Walters 2006), and have continued to investigate snail productivity in Waites Island (click here to view a .pdf version of a poster of this work that was presented at the 2005 meeting of the Society of Wetland Scientists in Charleston, SC).

Snail sampling in collaboration with a long-term study of plant assemblages in the high marsh of Waites Island, SC by Dr. Jim Luken, Department of Biology, has revealed distributions of Littoraria and Melampus that indicate possible competitive interactions. As a result, Beth Trott, CMWS graduate student, has further investigated the distribution of both snails in the high marsh and has conducted experiments examining competition between the two species. Beth presented part of her MS thesis research at the 2008 Southeastern Estuarine Research Society meeting in Charleston, SC. Her poster can be viewed here.
Dr. Jim Luken near a plot in the Waites Island high marsh. One of Beth Trott's cages in Salicornia examining snail competition.