Goldilocks Effect . . . In Snails?!?

The following is an article written about SSTP mentor Dr. Maurine Neiman’s research.  Dr. John Logsdon, also referenced in the article, has served as an SSTP mentor as well.  The article first appeared in IowaNow on December 5, 2013.  Dr. Neiman works in the Department of Biology at the University of Iowa.

Dr. Maurine Neiman and one of her SSTP menthes ('12)

Dr. Maurine Neiman and one of her SSTP mentees (’12)

A University of Iowa researcher has discovered that a “Goldilocks” effect applies to the reproductive output of a tiny New Zealand snail—considered a troublesome species in many countries—that may one day help environmentalists control their spread.

Known in the United States as the “New Zealand mud snail,” the freshwater snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) grows to a length of about one-quarter inch in U.S. rivers and lakes, and up to one-half inch in its native New Zealand.

The snails were first discovered in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s and have since spread widely throughout the West, including Yellowstone National Park, as well as east to the Great Lakes. Parts of the Snake River in Idaho have been reported to contain more than 100,000 snails per square meter.

The snail study, conducted by Maurine Neiman, assistant professor in the University of Iowa Department of Biology, appears in the Nov. 21 issue of the journal PLOS ONE. Her co-author, Nicholas Zachar, received his undergraduate degree from the UI in 2013 and currently is studying documentary filmmaking at American University, Washington, D.C. You can view the paper online, titled “ Profound Effects of Population Density on Fitness-Related Traits in Invasive Freshwater Snail.”

(Read the full story by reading the December 5 edition of Iowa Now).

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