Community composition of invasive, outbreak, and non-pest snail species along a source spring-to-fishpond gradient in a spatially structured aquacultural region

Sharon Moscovitz, Hanoch Glassner, Roussel Moise Wokam NJOMGANG, Eliahu D. Aflalo, Ofer Ovadia, Amir Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Agricultural lands are integrated into and interact with natural areas. Such is the case of Emek HaMa'ayanot, northern Israel, comprising a springs-rich area characterized by multiple land-uses, including spring-water-based aquaculture, recreational springs, and nature reserves. Aquacultural farms suffer from pest snails that carry fish disease; in the study region, these species are invasive (Thiara scabra, Tarebia granifera, Pseudosuccinea columella) and outbreak endemic (Melanoides tuberculata). Previous snail control efforts have focused on individual fishponds without considering management on larger environmental scales in the waterways from the source springs to the fish farms. To broaden our understanding of the status of the pest snail problem in the study area prior to suggesting environmental managerial solutions, we quantified changes in the community composition of snail species along the springs-to-fishponds gradients in a spatially explicit system. We found a remarkable increase in pest snail abundances along these gradients, indicating that pest snails might be invading upstream towards the springs. There were always nearly 100% pest snails in the endpoint sites for water tracks that ended in fishponds. Moreover, pest snails dominated the site when it was used as a fishpond, even though the site was also a spring. In contrast, in a water track that does not end in a fish farm, the relative abundances of non-pest snail species was similar between the source spring and the downstream endpoint, in spite of an increase in pest snail abundance at a midpoint site. These results suggest that invasive pest snails are actively moving upstream and that the fishponds have a marked upstream effect on the ability of non-pest snails to resist pest species invasions. We suggest further investigation of possible strategies for biocontrol of the observed invasion of the snails into natural areas as a basis for environmental management efforts. Finally, the observations made during this study could have practical global implications for snail management in aquaculture and agriculture, and for the control of snails and snail vectors implicated in animal and human diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119653
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • Agroecology
  • Aquaculture
  • Disease vector snails
  • Invasive species
  • Outbreak species
  • Snails

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Environmental Engineering


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