The utility of aquatic macroinvertebrates as indicators of the ecological conditions has long been established in rivers and streams. However, useful invertebrate indicators of wetland conditions remain more poorly developed.
Haitao Wu, a researcher at Northeast institute of geography and agroecology, Chinese academy of sciences and Darold P. Batzer from Department of entomology, university of Georgia discovered that snail assemblages and certain indicator species may provide a robust and rapid indicator of environmental impacts on wetlands In NE China.
In order to investigate the utility of snail taxa for indicating environmental variation across these wetland habitats, the research team sampled snail assemblages in 16 wetlands across a range of conditions, from relatively pristine “best available” reference sites to obviously human-impacted sites, and sampled in 12 floodplain wetlands along Wusuli River (headwater-, mid-, and downstream-reaches) in Northeastern China’s Sanjiang Plain. At 10 sites, comparisons between river-connected and levee-isolated wetlands were performed.
Results demonstrated it is simple and effective to a make rapid assessments of wetland condition by using snail assemblages as surrogates for overall aquatic invertebrate communities. Snail assemblages were concurrently being impacted by human impact and river reach, and whether the wetlands were isolated from the river, or not . Snail species were indicators of specific wetland types.
Snails are distributed widely and are generally easy to sample and identify, this overall approach should have applicability in the many wetlands worldwide where diverse snail assemblages naturally occur.
Typical snail taxa for indicating environmental varitation (Image by WU Haitao)
The study entitled"Snail (Mollusca: Gastropoda) assemblages as indicators of ecological condition in freshwater wetlands of Northeastern China" has been published online in Ecological Indicators
Prof.WU Haitao,Dr. Environmental science
Key Laboratory of Wetland and Environment,Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology,CAS,
NO.4888,Shengbei Street,Gao Xin District,ChangChun,China