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Invasive snails rescue endangered bird of prey

Cara J

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Endangered kites in Florida may have an unlikely savior: a type of invasive snail the size of a baseball. Until recently, the Florida population of snail kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) fed almost entirely on Florida apple snails (Pomacea paludosa), which can only live under specific wetland conditions. But an invasive snail from South America can survive in a much wider range of habitats, including human-made wetlands such as retention ponds and impounded cattle pastures. And where the new snail spreads, the kites are following. “You have an expansion of foraging to wetlands that were never used before,” said Kyle Pias, a conservation biologist with the Hono O Na Pali Seabird Mitigation Project in Hawaii and first author of a study recently published in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management. “You’ve taken a bird that used to be traditionally very heavily tied to pristine Everglades marshes, and now you’ve suddenly allowed it to be a bird that can forage off of power lines on the side of highways.” A juvenile snail kite feasts on an invasive island apple snail. ©Kyle Pias Florida was once home to thousands of snail kites, most of which lived around the Everglades. But the kites’ [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/invasive-snails-rescue-endangered-bird-of-prey/

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