Long-term Trends in Abundance and Habitat Associations of the Everglades Apple Snail

Zara Mansoor, Dale Gawlik

Abstract


The Florida apple snail (Pomacea paludosa) is of special management interest because survival
of the endangered Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) depends on a healthy population of
Florida apple snails. In this study, Florida apple snails were sampled across the Everglades from
2005 to 2014. The presence of Florida apple snails was independent of land cover type (slough,
prairies etc.), indicating that foraging habitats available to Snail Kites are probably not limiting.
However, Snail Kites show a higher use of foraging habitats with lower water depths and snail
densities of > 0.1–0.2 snails/m2 (Darby et al., 2012), indicating that they are more restricted in
available foraging habitat than what snail land cover use would suggest. In addition, the abundance
of Florida apple snails in samples in the Everglades declined during the course of this study,
concurrent with a decrease in the number of nesting Snail Kites in the area.


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