Effects of fertiliser applications on survival and recruitment of the apple snail, Pomacea canaliculata (Lamarck)

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Journal Article
Crop Protection, 2014, 64 pp. 78 - 87
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Since its introduction to Asia in the 1980s, the golden apple snail, Pomacea canaliculata (Lamarck), has represented a major constraint to the profitability of rice ( Oryza sativa L.) farming by damaging rice seedlings during crop establishment. This study describes a series of experiments designed to determine the effects of nitrogenous fertilisers on snail fitness. We examined the possibility of a two-phase model of snail response to nitrogen, whereby fertilisers initially increase snail mortality through toxicity, but once assimilated into the rice ecosystem, eventually favour snail reproduction and survival. In experimental arenas, fertiliser had lethal effects: Complete fertiliser (14:14:14), urea, ammonium sulphate and organic fertilisers were associated with snail mortality, generally affecting adult snails more than juvenile snails, and with greater effects when applied to saturated soil that was subsequently flooded (as opposed to direct application to flooded soil). Snail mortality was found to decline considerably when snails were added to arenas one day after fertiliser application - this occurred in arenas with soil and water, but not in arenas with water only, suggesting that soil can reduce the toxic effects of fertilisers. In a field experiment, snail numbers declined in both fertilised and non-fertilised plots at the time of crop establishment. Numbers increased in all plots after rice tillering, with significantly more recruitment in plots with high nitrogen. Although the responses were generally weak in the field experiment, they did support the two-phase model. The consequences of fertiliser applications for snail management and ecosystem health are discussed. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
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