Life History Studies and Habitat Requirements of the Apple Snail at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

The apple snail (Pomacea paludosa) is the exclusive food source of the Florida everglade kite (Rostrhamus sociabi/is plumbeus), an endangered species. A study of the snail at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge was initiated during 1971 to gather information needed to manage the snail to insure a food supply for the kite. Habitat studies revealed that apple snails are most abundant in alkaline waters containing an ample supply of submerged vegetation. A deficiency of dissolved oxygen may be a limiting factor in snail abundance. It was found that individual female snails will produce many clusters of eggs during the year. Female snails may produce several clusters of fertile eggs from one mating but have to mate two or more times during the egg laying season to continue producing fertile eggs. The average hatching time for eggs kept under observation in the refuge office was 22 to 24 days. Under natural field conditions egg clusters kept under close observation hatched in 16 to 18 days.

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