Operculum closing as a defence against predatory leeches in four British freshwater prosobranch snails

Research paper by Paul M. Kelly, Jenny S. Cory

Indexed on: 01 Jan '87Published on: 01 Jan '87Published in: Hydrobiologia


The defence reaction of operculum closing in response to the presence of the molluscivorous leech Glossiphonia complanata (L.) and the non-molluscivorous Erpobdella octoculata (L.) was studied in four species of freshwater prosobranch gastropod. Bithynia tentaculata (L.) and Valvata piscinalis (Müller) can distinguish between the leeches, reacting only to G. complanata. V. piscinalis is capable of a greater degree of distance chemoreception of the leech ‘scent’. Valvata cristata Müller and Potamopyrgus jenkinsi (Smith) did not react to either leech. V. cristata may not be a potential prey item for G. complanata, while P. jenkinsi is fed on by the leech, but is a relative newcomer to the freshwater fauna.