FWGNA > Species Accounts > Lymnaeidae > Lymnaea stagnalis
Lymnaea stagnalis (Linne 1767)

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> Habitat & Distribution

Hubendick (1951) gave the range of Lymnaea stagnalis as "almost the whole of Europe, all Asia except the most southern regions, widely distributed in North America."  Here on this continent Baker (1911), listed the range of L. stagnalis, together with its many subspecies and forms, as simply "north of about the 40th parallel," roughly the latitude the Maryland - Pennsylvania line, west through Denver into northern California.  Throughout this vast range, L. stagnalis populations are typically associated with the quiet margins of richer lakes and larger, stable ponds.

Given the introduction above, the rarity of Lymnaea stagnalis populations in our study area might seem surprising.  We have only two confirmed records in our entire 14-state study area, one in extreme NW Pennsylvania and a second in northern Indiana.  Much of the explanation is doubtless the rarity of suitably large, rich, stable lentic environments throughout this region.  But older national collections do contain historic lots of L. stagnalis from central Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, suggesting that the snail's range may have receded northward in recent decades (Axenov-Gribanov et al. 2015).  Lymnaea stagnalis is pseudo-rare in our 15-state study area, FWGNA incidence rank I-2p.

> Ecology & Life History

Lymnaea stagnalis is large-bodied, easy to manipulate experimentally, easy to culture in the laboratory (Mooij-Vogelaar & van der Steen 1973), and demonstrates a small number of easily-dentified neurons.  This has made "the giant pond snail' a popular model organism for studies of neurobiology (Dalesman et al. 2011), general physiology (De Boer et al. 1996, Syed et al 1991), ecotoxicology (Bouetard et al. 2014) and genetics (Feng et al. 2009, Sadamoto et al. 2012).  My simple 2012 search of the NCBI PubMed database (for example) yielded 1,344 hits, suggesting that L. stagnalis may surpass Biomphalaria glabrata for the title of "world's best-known freshwater gastropod."   

In their natural habitat, L. stagnalis populations seem to graze on submerged aquatic vegetation such as the pondweed, Potamogeton (Bovbjerg 1968, Pip & Stewart 1976, Ito et al. 2013).  See Runham (1975) for a review of the Lymnaea digestive system and Tuersley & McCrohan (1987) for feeding.

Lymnaea stagnalis are non-reciprocally mating simultaneous hermaphrodites, preferentially outcrossing, as is common in the freshwater pulmonates generally (Van Duivenboden & TerMaat 1988).  Copulation behavior has been reviewed by Koene & TerMaat (2007) and reproductive biology by van Duivenboden and colleagues (1985).  Davison et al. (2009) offered evidence that mating behavior is maternally inherited.

Brown (1979) reported a simple annual life cycle in Iowa (type A of Dillon 2000: 156 - 162).  But more northern populations require two generations to mature (Russell-Hunter 1961, McKillop 1985), and even three years (Boag & Pearlstone 1979), a life cycle unique in freshwater pulmonate populations. 

> Taxonomy & Systematics

Basommatophoran gastropods of the worldwide family Lymnaeidae are characterized by striking conchological diversity but anatomical uniformity.  The mounting evidence that much of the shell morphological variation upon which lymnaeid systematics have historically been based seems to arise from ecophenotypic plasticity (e.g., Arthur 1982, Bronmark et al. 2011, 2012, Vinarski 2014) has led to a great deal of taxonomic churn.

Lymnaea stagnalis has not suffered the severe levels of taxonomic splitting visited upon the stagnicoline and fossarine groups, however, perhaps because the strikingly elongated and concave apex born by its shell renders the species unusually distinctive.  Baker (1911) lowered (essentially) all six North American stagnalis synonyms that existed in his time to the subspecies level, from which they have (essentially) disappeared.

The NCBI Genbank holds an unsually large number of high quality L. stagnalis gene sequences, sampled across three continents, which have been found useful to calibrate the levels of intra- and inter-population divergence expected in less well known lymnaeid groups.  Lymnaea stagnalis gene sequences have been included in the molecular phylogenetic studies of Remigio & Blair (1997) and Correa and colleagues (2010).  See my essay of 4June12 from the link below.

> Supplementary Resources

> Essays

> References

Arthur, W. 1982.  Control of shell shape in Lymnaea stagnalis.  Heredity 49: 153 - 161.
Axenov-Gribanov, D. K. Vereshchagina, Y. Lubyaga, A. Gurkov, D. Bedulina, Z. Shatilina, A. Khomich, A. Golubev, and M. Timofeyev.  2015.  Stress response at the cellular and biochemical levels indicates the limitation of the environmental temperature range for Eastern Siberian populations of the common gastropod Lymnaea stagnalis.  Malacologia  59(1):33-44.
Baker, F. 1911.
The Lymnaeidae of North and Middle America, Recent and Fossil. Special Publication No. 3., Chicago: Chicago Academy of Natural Sciences.
Boag, D. A. and P.S.M. Pearlstone 1979.  On the life cycle of Lymnaea stagnalis in southwestern Alberta.  Can J. Zool. 57: 353 - 362.
Bouétard A, Côte J, Besnard A-L, Collinet M, Coutellec M-A 2014.  Environmental versus Anthropogenic Effects on Population Adaptive Divergence in the Freshwater Snail Lymnaea stagnalis. PLoS ONE 9(9): e106670. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106670
Bovbjerg, R. 1968. Responses to food in lymnaeid snails. Phys. Zool. 41: 412-423.
Bronmark, C., T. Lakowitz, and J. Hollander. 2011. Predator-induced morphological plasticity across local populations of a freshwater snail. PLoS ONE 6(7): e21773.
Brown, K. 1979.  Adaptive demography of four freshwater pulmonae snails.  Evolution 33: 417 - 432.
Burch, J. B. 1989.  North American Freshwater Snails.  Malacological Publications, Hamburg, MI.  365 pp.
Clarke, A. H.  1981.  The Freshwater Molluscs of Canada.  Ottawa: National Museums of Canada.  445 pp.  
Correa, A. C., J. S. Escobar, P. Durand, F. Renaud, P. David, P. Jarne, J-P Pointier, & S. Hurtrez-Bousses. 2010.  Bridging gaps in the molecular phylogeny of the Lymnaeidae (Gastropoda: Pulmonata), vectors of Fascioliasis.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 381.
Dalesman, S., V. Karnik & K. Lukowiak 2011.   Sensory mediation of memory blocking stressors in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis.  J. Exp. Biol. 214: 2528 - 2533.
Davison, A., H.T. Frend, C. Moray, H. Wheatley, L.J. Searle, and M.P. Eichhorn.  2009.  Mating behaviour in Lymnaea stagnalis pond snails is a maternally inherited, lateralized trait.  Biology Letters  5:20-22
DeBoer, P., R. F. Jansen, and A. TerMaat 1996.
 Copulation in the hermaphroditic snail Lymnaea stagnalis: a review.  Invert. Repro. Devel. 30: 167 - 176.
Dillon, R. T., Jr. 2000.  The Ecology of Freshwater Molluscs.  Cambridge University Press 509 pp.
Feng, ZP, Z Zhang, RE van Kesteren, VA Straub, P van Nierop, K Jin, N Nejatbakhsh, JI Goldberg, GE Spencer, MS Yeoman, W Wildering, JR Coorssen, RP Croll, LT Buck, NI SyedEmail author and AB Smit 2009.  Transcriptome analysis of the central nervous system of the mollusc Lymnaea stagnalis.  BMC Genomics 10:451.
Hubendick, B. 1951. Recent Lymnaeidae.  Their variation, morphology, taxonomy, nomenclature, and distribution. Kungl. Svenska Vetensk. Akad. Handl., 3, 1-223. 
Ito, E., S. Kojima, K. Lukowiak, and M. Sakakibara.  2013.  From likes to dislikes: conditioned taste aversion in the great pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis).  Canadian Journal of Zoology  91(6):405-412.
Koene, J. M. & A. Ter Maat 2007.
 Coolidge effect in pond snails: male motivtion in a simultaneous hermaphrodite.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 212.
Liddon, J., and S. Dalesman.  2015.  Trail following differs between wild and captive-reared snails, Lymnaea stagnalis.  Journal of Molluscan Studies  81(2):299-302.
McKillop, W. 1985.
 Distribution of aquatic gastropods across the Ordovician dolomite - Precambrian granite contact in southeastern Manitoba, Canada.  Can. J. Zool. 63: 278 - 288.
Mooij-Vogelaar, J. & Van der Steen, W.  1973.  Effects of density on feeding and growth in the pond snails Lymnaea stagnalis.  Poc. Konink. Neder. Adad. Wetenschap. Seres 6 76: 47 - 60.
Pip, E. & J. Stewart 1976.  The dynamics of two aquatic plant-snail associations.  Can. J. Zool. 54: 1192 - 1205.
Remigio EA & Blair D 1997.  Molecular systematics of the freshwater snail (Pulmonata: Basommatophora) utilising mitochondrial ribosomal DNA sequences. Journal of Molluscan Studies 63: 173-185.
Runham, N. 1975.  Alimentary canal.  pp 53 - 104 In Pulmonates, Vol. 1.  V. Fretter & J. Peake, eds.  Academic Press, NY.
Russell-Hunter, W. 1961.  Life cycles of four freshwater snails in limited populations in Loch Lomond with a discussion of infraspecific variation.  Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 137: 135 - 171.
Sadamoto H, Takahashi H, Okada T, Kenmoku H, Toyota M, Asakawa Y. 2012  De Novo Sequencing and Transcriptome Analysis of the Central Nervous System of Mollusc Lymnaea stagnalis by Deep RNA Sequencing. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42546. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0042546
Syed, N. I., D. Harrison & W. Winlow 1991.  Respiratory behavior in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis.  J. Comp. Physiology A 169: 541 - 555.
Tuersley, M.D. & C.R. McCrohan 1987.  Food arousal in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis.  Behav. Neural. Biol. 48: 222-236.
Van Duivenboden, Y.A., A. Pieneman, and A. Ter Maat 1985.  Multiple mating suppresses fecundity in the hermaphrodite freshwater snail Lymnaea stagnalis: A laboratory study.  Anim. Behav. 33: 1184 - 1191.
Van Duivenboden, Y. A. & Ter Maat, A. 1988.  Mating behaviour of Lymnaea stagnalis. Malacologia 28: 53–64.
Vinarski, M. 2014.  A comparative study of shell variation in two morphotypes of Lymnaea stagnalis (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Pulmonata) Zoological Studies 53:69.