Phuong-Thao Ho

and 3 more

Plasticity in salt tolerance can be crucial for successful biological invasions of novel habitats by marine gastropods. The intertidal snail Batillaria attramentaria, which is native to East Asia but invaded the western shores of North America from Japan eighty years ago, provides an opportunity to examine how environmental salinity may shape behavioral and morphological traits. In this study, we compared the movement distance of four B. attramentaria populations from native (Korea and Japan) and introduced (USA) habitats under various salinity levels (13, 23, 33, and 43 PSU) during 30 days of exposure in the lab. We sequenced a partial mitochondrial CO1 gene to infer phylogenetic relationships among populations and confirmed two divergent mitochondrial lineages constituting our sample sets. Using a statistic model-selection approach, we investigated the effects of geographic distribution and genetic composition on locomotor performance in response to salt stress. Snails exposed to acute low salinity (13 PSU) reduced their locomotion and were unable to perform at their normal level (the moving pace of snails exposed to 33 PSU). We did not detect any meaningful differences in locomotor response to salt stress between the two genetic lineages or between the native snails (Japan versus Korea populations), but we found significant locomotor differences between the native and introduced groups (Japan or Korea versus the USA). We suggest that the greater magnitude of tidal salinity fluctuation at the USA location may have influenced locomotor responses to salt stress in introduced snails.