Biodiversity of aquatic gastropods in the Mont St-Michel basin (France) in relation to salinity and drying of habitats

Research paper by Katherine Costil, G.B.J. Dussart, J. Daguzan

Indexed on: 01 Jan '01Published on: 01 Jan '01Published in: Biodiversity and Conservation


Seventy-seven polder and marsh stations were sampled for aquatic and riparian gastropods in the terrestrial basin of Mont St-Michel from March 1994–March 1995 and during a drought in 1996. In addition, four ponds with riparian coppice (bocage) were investigated. Twenty-one stations, mostly in polders, lacked snails; high values of conductivity, and by implication salinity, appeared to make the habitats unfavourable. Only the euryhaline hydrobid Potamopyrgus antipodarum and the amphibious lymnaeid Lymnaea truncatula survived in areas of high conductivity. In associated lagoons, the maximum level of salinity tolerated by freshwater gastropods was 35‰. Of the 14 species of gastropods collected, Lymnaea peregra and Anisus leucostoma were the most abundant. Stations had 1–7 species and the average gastropod species richness was 3.32 (±1.67). The canals that were the most susceptible to drying had a community of desiccation-resistant species including L. truncatula, Aplexa hypnorum, A. leucostoma and L. peregra. It appears that gastropod assemblages in the terrestrial basin of Mont St-Michel have achieved their current diversity by surviving strong ecological constraints.