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Longevity of oversized individuals: growth, parasitism, and history in an estuarine snail population
Curtis, L.A.; Kinley, J.L.; Tanner, N.L. (2000). Longevity of oversized individuals: growth, parasitism, and history in an estuarine snail population. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K. 80: 811-820
In: Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press/Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom: Cambridge. ISSN 0025-3154, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Curtis, L.A.
  • Kinley, J.L.
  • Tanner, N.L.

    Ilyanassa obsoleta is mainly an eastern North American estuarine gastropod. Previous work on growth rate revealed a longevity of 30-40 y for this snail. Trematode infections retard growth, appear to be long-lived (>10 y) and can be frequent in this host. In 1995 a population made up of unusually large, trematode-parasitized individuals was located in Rehoboth Bay, Delaware. It was interesting to discover whether the oversized snails were the result of locally faster growth or greater age. Therefore in 1996 individually marked snails, uninfected and infected, were deployed to assess growth rates. Uninfected snails were tracked mostly in summer and autumn 1996; infected snails could be tracked longer, some through autumn 1999. Estimated growth rates of uninfected (1.5 mm y-1) and infected (0.2 mm y-1) snails in this habitat were similar to previous results and the large size of individuals in this population must be explained by greater age. Habitat history and growth rate evidence indicate the population includes snails as old as about 70 y. If correct, this becomes the greatest documented snail longevity. Trematodes gain long-term reproduction by their association with this host. By virtue of the enduring effects of long-lived individuals, and the wider potential effects of their long-lived infections (on the snails themselves and on other hosts in their life cycles), I. obsoleta stands to contribute more to the stability of coastal ecosystems than heretofore recognized.

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