Strangers in the dark: behavioral and biochemical evidence for trail pheromones in Hawaiian tree snails

Brenden S. Holland, Marianne Gousy-Leblanc, Joanne Y. Yew
  • Invertebrate Biology, April 2018, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/ivb.12211

Hawaiian tree snails use chemical communication in order to find one another for reproduction

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

What is it about?

In this study we tested our hypothesis that since Hawaiian tree snails have poor vision and limited sensory abilities, plus they are active at night being pretty strictly nocturnal, there must be a chemical component to finding mates and reproductive communication. We tested for trail following in all possible combinations of adult and juvenile snails in both conspecific and among species trials. We confirmed that trail following occurs within adults individuals of the same species.

Why is it important?

This is important because Hawaiian tree snails are all severely endangered, and essentially all known populations whether managed or unmanaged, exist at densities that are thought to be unnaturally low, rendering reproduction very difficult since low density precludes trail following in rain forest habitat, as the snails have trouble finding one another in host trees when density of adults is below a critical threshold.

Perspectives

Dr Brenden Holland
Hawaii Pacific University

In order to devise effective management strategy for all species of conservation concern, we need to understand fundamental ecology and behavior, including reproductive behavior. The results of this study suggest that managed populations of endangered tree snails should be managed to optimize and enhance population density in host trees where ever possible.

Read Publication

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ivb.12211

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Brenden Holland