Chronic Nutrient Enrichment Increases the Density and Biomass of the Mudsnail, Nassarius obsoletus
In summer 2009, the effects of 6 years of landscape-level experimental nutrient enrichment on the eastern mudsnail, Nassarius obsoletus (formerly Ilyanassa obsoleta), were examined. The experiment was conducted in five tidal creeks (two nutrient-enriched, three reference creeks) in the Plum Island Estuary, Massachusetts, USA. (42\textdegree44' N, 70\textdegree52' W). After 6 years of enrichment, N. obsoletus size structure differed between treatment creeks with adult snails on average 14 % larger in enriched creeks. N. obsoletus densities (in individuals per square meter) and biomass (in grams dry weight per square meter) were four times higher in nutrient-enriched versus reference creeks. Nutrient enrichment did not significantly affect the biomass of benthic microalgae (a N. obsoletus food resource), but snail density was significantly correlated with benthic microalgal biomass, suggesting bottom–up control of snails. N. obsoletus is abundant on the east and west coast of North America; thus, N. obsoletus density and biomass may be useful variables for monitoring eutrophication effects on North American estuaries.