No effects of waterproof marking on the behaviour and growth of Physa acuta Draparnaud, 1805 (Gastropoda: Hygrophila: Physidae) in the laboratory
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Limno Consulting, Rome, Italy
Department of Medicine and Life Sciences (MESVA), Coppito Science Centre, University of L’Aquila, Italy
Faculty of Biological and Veterinary Sciences, Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Parasitology, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland
Paola Lombardo   

Limno Consulting, via Bedollo 303, I-00124 Rome, Italy
Submission date: 2021-02-10
Final revision date: 2021-04-28
Acceptance date: 2021-05-06
Online publication date: 2021-05-25
Publication date: 2021-06-04
Folia Malacol. 2021;29(2):121–131
Physa acuta Draparnaud, 1805 is one of the most common freshwater gastropod species, with worldwide distribution. It is an effective periphyton grazer and a potential keystone species in shallow-water systems, where it can boost macrophyte well-being and thus help maintain high water clarity even in nutrient-rich habitats. P. acuta also has been extensively studied in ecotoxicological and behavioural investigations. Such investigations may require observations on individual snails. A method to distinguish individual snails in small-scale experiments is marking their shells with paint dots. However, such marking must not influence snail behaviour (nutritional, reproductive, respiratory, etc.) or growth to avoid confounding effects. Earlier investigations point to no or very limited effects of marking on aquatic and terrestrial snail survival, behaviour, and growth. We tested whether marking could affect the behaviour (as snail activity) and growth of P. acuta using a waterproof, oil-based, non-toxic, fine-point car-body paint marker. Snails were divided into a “marked” and an “unmarked” (control) group of ten snails each in an eight-day experiment. The marking had no effect on the snail activity or growth. The snails survived the experiment and produced egg clutches well beyond the eight-day period. The marking persisted without fading during and beyond the experimental period. Our results support earlier findings that the use of oil-based, non-toxic markers can assist in carrying out reliable observations on individual snails, including the small-bodied P. acuta. Combinations of two dots of different colours allow simultaneous observations on a high number of replicate individuals.
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