Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Sarah Wofford-Mares

Abstract

Habitat choice is a critical behavior for organisms to successfully survive and reproduce. These choices are dictated by available environmental information about potential predation risks or food patches that form the organism’s sensory landscape. This study specifically focused on the behavioral choices of two invasive apple snail (Pomacea maculata) populations exposed to varying predation threats. We collected snails from Florida and Alabama which were used in laboratory experiments with varied sensory landscapes. Trials consisted of controls with no cues (FL: n = 7, AL: n= 7), an attractive treatment with introduced food cues (FL: n = 4, AL: n = 6), and an aversive treatment with introduced alarm cues (FL: n = 5, AL: N = 8). All trials were analyzed for zone choice and behavioral responses. Chi squared analyses revealed differences in initial and final arm choice based on treatment group (Initial: χ 2 = 10.834, df = 4, p = 0.029, Final: χ 2 = 16.648, df = 4, p = 0.00226). However, generalized linear models did not demonstrate any difference in the amount of time snails spent in the neutral zone (Treatment: Dev = 42.5, p = 0.97; State: Dev = 1167.1, p = 0.20; Treatment x State: Dev = 1407.4, p = 0.36) and a square-root transformed linear model did not demonstrate any difference in the amount of time the snails spent in the odor arm (Treatment: F = 0.79, p = 0.38; State: F = 0.038, p = 0.85; Treatment x State: F = 2.63; p = 0.12.) Finally, Chi squared analyses showed no difference in active versus inactive behaviors based on treatment (χ 2=0.36, df = 2, p = 0.84) or by state (χ 2= 3.02, df = 1, p = 0.08). More studies on these snails’ chemical landscape and associated behaviors could inform population management for this formidable aquatic invader.

Available for download on Saturday, April 15, 2023

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