FWGNA > Species Accounts > Viviparidae > Bellamya chinensis
Bellamya chinensis (Gray 1834)
“Cipangopaludina” chinensis
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> Habitat & Distribution

Bellamya chinensis populations are widely introduced throughout the United States, especially in northern latitudes, extending into Canada (Clench & Fuller 1965, Clarke 1981, Jokinen 1982).  The ANSP holds quite a few lots collected in the 1950s and 1960s from southeastern Pennsylvania.  As of 2018 we were aware of approximately 50 populations in our study area, roughly half In Atlantic drainages and half in drainages of The Ohio, generally inhabiting ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and larger rivers.

Although we are aware of several B. chinensis populations in Kentucky, we have no confirmed records south of the Mason-Dixon line.  The earliest reports of Bellamya in the American southeast were, however, records of “Viviparus” or “Cipangopaludinachinensis in Alamance and Pitt Counties, North Carolina from the 1940s (Clench & Fuller 1965), with a Wake County record added in 1977 (Cordiero, pers. comm). Directed searches conducted 2011-12 have failed to confirm Bellamya populations (of either species) at any of these sites - Alamance, Pitt or Wake.  Nor have we been able to confirm two subsequent records of B. chinensis from Virginia (Stewart & Dillon 2004), although B. japonica is not uncommon in the Old Dominion.  FWGNA incidence rank I-4.

> Ecology & Life History

We are not aware of any ecological differences between B. chinensis and the (very similar) B. japonica, which may have been introduced together, and occasionally occur in mixed populations.  See our Bellamya japonica page for more detailed discussion of the ecology, origin and spread of Bellamya in North America.

The (surprisingly sparse) life history studies of B. chinensis suggest that maturity may be reached at age one year, with iteroparous reproduction for several years thereafter (Life cycle G, Stanczykowska et al 1971, Jokinen 1982, Therriault & Kott, 2002).  Jokinen’s (1987) analysis of the distribution of B. chinensis in Connecticut and New York led her to classify it as a “C-D tramp,” potentially present in nearly every community.  Dillon’s (2000) reanalysis of these data suggested that B. chinensis populations in Connecticut seem to be Undifferentiated with respect to life history adaptation.

populations sometimes seem to reproduce explosively, then suffer dramatic crashes, as might be associated with semelparous reproduction (see my essay of 5Aug14 below).  The adult population of B. chinensis inhabiting a 1.46 ha New York pond increased from approximately N = 150 in the sampling season of 2010 to N = 1000 in 2012 (McCann 2014). Chaine and colleagues (2012) estimated an adult population size of 253,570 in a 6.47 ha Nebraska reservoir, with a 1:1 sex ratio and an estimated fecundity of 27.2 - 33.3 young per female per year (Stephen et al. 2013).  The following year, 39% of the population died (Haak et al. 2013).

Such dramatic population fluctuations might be a natual consequence of spent-salmon semelparity.  We think invasive flush-crash population dynamics are more likely, however, initial blooms leading to the colonization of marginal habitats, and consequent die-offs as resources are depleted.

The ecological consequences of Bellamya invasion are difficult to document.  Johnson et al. (2009) reported some experimental evidence that Bellamya invasion might have a negative impact on native populations of pulmonate snails, although this was not confirmed by field surveys (Solomon et al. 2010).  In Japan, where Bellamya is harvested for human consumption, concern has been expressed that rice paddy populations of B. chinensis may be decreasing (Nakanshi et al. 2014).

Huehner and Etges (1977) reported the development of the trematode Aspidogaster conchicola - typically considered a bivalve parasite - in an Ohio population of "Viviparus malleatus." Harried et al (2015) reported rather strikingly low rates of trematode parasitism rates in 22 Wisconsin lakes, however.  

Prezant et al. (2006) found evidence that populations of B. chinensis in New Jersey may react to crayfish predation by producing larger numbers of offspring, smaller and more variable in size.

> Taxonomy & Systematics

See under B. japonica for notes regarding the generic taxonomy.  We suspect that most (perhaps all) of the historic records of B. chinensis from Atlantic drainages south of the Maxon-Dixon line may be traceable to confusion with B. japonica.  Both of the records of B. chinensis in the Virginia Museum of Natural History relayed by Stewart & Dillon (2004) proved to be based on B. japonica upon examination of the museum lots.

Reeve (1863) described Paludina malleatus without distinguishing it from J. E. Gray’s (1834) P. chinensis, or indeed from any other oriental viviparid.  Clench & Fuller (1965) considered malleata (Reeve) a subspecies of chinensis, again without distinguishing it from chinensis (s.s.).  We follow Smith (2000) subsuming malleata (Reeve) under chinensis (Gray) entirely.

> Supplementary Resources [PDF]

> Essays

  • Bellamya was mentioned parenthetically in my 29Oct03 essay on Invasive Viviparids in South Carolina. The distributional info is a bit obsolete, but there are several additional photos.
  • See my Bellamya News of 6Oct05 for items about Bellamya Ranching in North Carolina, Bellamya Roundup in Massachusetts, and Bellamya as a Model for Invertebrate Anatomy.
  • The Community Consequences of Bellamya Invasion in Wisconsin lakes were explored in my FWGNA blog post of 18Dec09.  There was also a nice photo comparing B. chinensis to B. japonica, both juvenile and adult.
  • My FWGNA blog post of 12Sept11, Dispatches from the Viviparid Front, included one item on a citizen's monitoring effort in Wisconsin (with links to some good references) and a second item on controlling B. chinensis in Ontario by hand-picking.
  • In Just Before The Bust (5Aug14) I described a Bellamya japonica population explosion in the tailwaters of the the Wateree Dam in central South Carolina.  That post featured several striking in situ photos, including a high resolution jpeg of a "bed" of Bellamya apparently filter feeding like mussels.
  • I reviewed the Bellamya ("Cipangopaludina") records in the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database in my post of 16Oct15, To Only Know Invasives.  That essay featured two photos of B. chinensis shells, one of which was incorrectly labeled japonica by the USGS.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bellamya of many species are widely retailed through the online aquarium trade.  See my post of 24Jan18, Snails by Mail.

> References

Burnett, J.L., and six colleagues (2018)  Thermal tolerance limits of the Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis): implications for management.  American Malacological Bulletin 36: 140 - 144.
Chaine, N. M., C. Allen, K. Fricke, D. Haak, M. Hellman, R. Kill, K. Nemec, K. Pope, N. Smeenk, B. Stephen, D. Uden, K. Unstad & A. VanderHam (2012)  Population estimate of Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis) in a Nebraska reservoir.  BioInvasions Records 1: 283-287.

Clarke, A. (1978)
The Asian apple snail, Cipangopaludina chinensis (Viviparidae) in Oneida Lake, New York. The Nautilus, 92:134.
Clarke, A. H. (1981) The Freshwater Mollusks of Canada. The National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.
Clench, W. & Fuller, S. (1965) The genus Viviparus in North America. Occas. Pprs. on Mollusks, Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard, 2, 385-412.
Cordeiro, J. R. (2002) Proliferation of the Chinese mystery snail, Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (Reeve, 1863) throughout Connecticut [Abstract]. Program and Abstracts of the 68th Meeting of the American Malacological Society, Charleston, SC (R. T. Dillon, ed.) p. 37.
Dillon, R. T., Jr. (2000) The Ecology of Freshwater Molluscs. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. 509 pp.
Gray, J. E. (1834)  Paludina chinensis.  Pg 599 and Plate IV in Cuvier’s Animal Kingdom, Volume 12, Mollusca and Radiata (E. Griffith & E. Pidgeon, eds.)  Whittaker & Co, London.
Harried, B., K. Fischer, K.E. Perez, and G.J. Sandland (2015)  Assessing infection patterns in Chinese mystery snails from Wisconsin, USA using field and laboratory approaches.  Aquatic Invasions  10(2):169-175.
Havel, J.E. (2011) 
Survival of the exotic Chinese mystery snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata) during air exposure and implications for overland dispersal by boats.  Hydrobiologia  668(1):195-202.
Huehner, M. K. & F. J. Etges (1977)
 The life cycle and development of Aspidogaster conchicola in the snails, Viviparus malleatus and Goniobasis livescens.  Journal of Parasitology 63: 669 - 674. 
Johnson, P., Olden, J., Solomon, C. & Vander Zanden, M. (2009) Interactions among invaders: community and ecosystem effects of multiple invasive species in an experimental aquatic system. Oecologia, 159:161-170.
Jokinen, E. (1982) Cipangopaludina chinensis (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) in North America. Nautilus 96: 89 – 95.
Jokinen, E. (1983) The freshwater snails of Connecticut.  State Department of Environmental Protection Bulletin 109, 83 pp.
Jokinen, E. (1987) Structure of freshwater snail communities: Species-area relationships and incidence categories.  Amer. Malac. Bull. 5: 9 - 19.
Haak, D. M., N. M. Chaine, B. J. Stephen, A. Wong, & C. R. Allen (2013)
 Mortality estimate of Chinese mystery snail, Bellamya chinensis in a Nebraska reservoir.  BioInvasions Records 2: 137-139.
Havel, J.E. (2011)  Survival of the exotic Chinese mystery snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata) during air exposure and implications for overland dispersal by boats.  Hydrobiologia  668(1):195-202.
Khan, R., & S. Chaudhuri (1984) The population and production ecology of a freshwater snail Bellamya bengalensis (Lamarck) (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) in an artificial lake of Calcutta, India. Bull. Zool. Surv. India, 5: 59-76.
McCann, M.J. (2014)  Population dynamics of the non-native freshwater gastropod, Cipangopaludina chinensis (Viviparidae): A capture-mark-recapture study.  Hydrobiologia 730: 17-27.
Nakanishi, K., K-I. Takakura, R. Kanai, K. Tawa, D. Murakami and H. Sawada (2014)  Impacts of environmental factors in rice paddy fields on abundance of the mud snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis laeta).  Journal of Molluscan Studies  80(4):460-463.
Prezant, R. S., E. J. Chapman & A. McDougall (2006)
 In utero predator-induced responses in the viviparid snail Bellamya chinensis.  Can. J. Zool. 84: 600-608.
Raut, S. (1986) Inhibition of fish growth by the freshwater snail Bellamya bengalensis. Environ. Ecol., 4: 332-333.
Reeve, L. A. (1863)  Monograph of the genus Paludina.  Conchologica Iconica Volume 14 (1864), unpaginated.  Lovell Reeve & Co, London.
Smith, D.G. (2000) Notes on the taxonomy of introduced Bellamya (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) species in northeastern North America. Nautilus 114: 31-37.
Solomon, C., Olden, J., Johnson, P., Dillon, R. & Vander Zanden, M. (2010) Distribution and community-level effectsof the Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis) in northern Wisconsin lakes. Biological Invasions, 12:1591-1605. [PDF]
Stanczykowska, A., Magnin, E. & Dumouchel, A. (1971) Etude de trois populations de Viviparus malleatus (Reeve) de la region de Montreal. I. Croissance, fecondite, biomasse et production annuelle. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 49:1431-1441. 
Stephen, B.J., C.R. Allen, N.M. Chaine, K.A. Fricke, D.M. Haak, M.L. Hellman, R.A. Kill, K.T. Nemec, K.L. Pope, N.A. Smeenk, D.R. Uden, K.M. Unstad, A.E. Van der Ham, and A. Wong (2013) Fecundity of the Chinese mystery snail in a Nebraska reservoir.  Journal of Freshwater Ecology  28(3):439-444.
Stewart, T. & Dillon, R. (2004) Species composition and geographic distribution of Virginia's freshwater gastropod fauna: A review using historical records. American Malacological Bulletin, 19:79-91.
Therriault, T. & Kott, E. (2002-3) Cipangopaludina chinensis malleata (Gastropoda: Viviparidae) in southern Ontario: An update of the distribution and some aspects of life history. Malacological Review, 35-36:111-121.
Zhu, J., K. Lu & X. Liu (2013)  Can the freshwater snail Bellamya aeruginosa affect phytoplankton community and water quality?  Hydrobiologia 707: 147-157.