The Wrack: littorina

blog of the wells reserve & laudholm trust

Associated People Megan Tyrrell Michele Dionne

Project Summary

Researchers manipulated densities of the invasive snail Littorina littorea at two sites, one in the Little River estuary and another in the Webhannet River estuary, to investigate the effect of grazing on plant production and sediment accumulation. They found that under more stressful conditions for saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) – poor drainage or greater flooding, for example – the impact of snail grazing on biomass becomes apparent: Where snails eat cordgrass faster than it can grow back, less cordgrass is available to capture sediment and the marsh surface does not build up as quickly. In contrast, the impact of snails is not significant under more favorable conditions for cordgrass.

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