2010-11-04 / Outdoors

Chinese mystery snail added to list of invasives in Houghton Lake

By Thomas Reznich tom.reznich@ houghtonlakeresorter.com

ANOTHER INVASIVE Houghton Lake Lake Association President Keith Stiles holds a Chinese mystery snail he caught in a Houghton Lake canal near the West Shore recently. Dr. Dave Zanatta of Central Michigan University said the large snails, which are native to Asia, were introduced to North America in the early 20th century and have been present in Michigan for decades. (Photos by Thomas Reznich) ANOTHER INVASIVE Houghton Lake Lake Association President Keith Stiles holds a Chinese mystery snail he caught in a Houghton Lake canal near the West Shore recently. Dr. Dave Zanatta of Central Michigan University said the large snails, which are native to Asia, were introduced to North America in the early 20th century and have been present in Michigan for decades. (Photos by Thomas Reznich) A new snail was recently added to the list of invasive species that inhabit Houghton Lake, but the invader may have been here for a while.

Chinese mystery snails were found in the lake by Houghton Lake Lake Association President Keith Stiles. Stiles said he saw a picture of the snails and recognized it as the same type he had seen in the lake for the past three years.

He mailed shells to Dr. Dave Zanatta in the Biology Department at Central Michigan University, who identified them as Chinese mystery snails in September. Zanatta said the species was introduced to North America from Asia in the early 20th century, and have been in Michigan for decades.

DOUBLE INVASIVE A pair of Chinese mystery snails netted by Stiles are infested with yet another invasive species, zebra mussels, which have attached themselves to the snails’ shells. DOUBLE INVASIVE A pair of Chinese mystery snails netted by Stiles are infested with yet another invasive species, zebra mussels, which have attached themselves to the snails’ shells. “I don’t find their presence particularly worrying,” said Zanatta, adding that the snails don’t seem to have had a pronounced effect on the lake’s ecology so far. He said that there is always the danger that they may displace or out-compete native species, and that they may also serve as hosts to the organisms that cause swimmer’s itch.

“We move these species around,” sometimes inadvertently, sometimes on purpose said Zanatta, “Chinese mystery snails are not particularly problematic, but some species can cause dire problems.” He cited the aquatic plant Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) as one of these, along with animal species including the round goby, spiney water flea and asian carp.

According to Anthony Groves of Progressive AE, consultant to the Houghton Lake Improvement Board, besides the newly identified snail, invasive species identified in Houghton Lake include EWM, curly leaf pond weed, zebra mussels and purple loosestrife.

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