Spatio-Temporal Distribution of Freshwater Snail Species in Relation to Migration and Environmental Factors in an Irrigated Area from Morocco
Nine sites were sampled 19 times over 2 years in an irrigation system in Morocco in order to study species abundance in a snail community in relation to environmental parameters (including human activities) and migration (geographic distance) among sites. Each site was made of a sink and the first meters of the downstream canal. The snail community included four species (Bulinus truncatus, Lymnaea truncatula, Mercuria similis and Physa acuta). Strong spatial variation in species occurrence and abundance was detected which might be partly due to variation in water availability. However abundance in sinks and canals in which water availability differs were correlated. There was, as predicted, limited evidence in favor of isolation by distance which might be due to fast water current. Dispersal might therefore be an important factor structuring this community. On the other hand, the temporal variation was much more limited. This is consistent with the analysis of individual size distributions in B. truncatus, since no clear-cut cohorts were detected. The environmental parameters recorded (e.g. temperature, occurrence of macrophytes or cleaning of sinks) were extremely variable in time and space, except temperature. Analyzing their association with species through multidimensional methods indicated that P. acuta is ubiquitous and B. truncatus positively associated with macrophytes. These two species were associated in sinks. Less clear trends were detected for the two other species. Annual cleaning of sinks affected all species, but population recovery was fast in B. truncatus and P. acuta.