ASSESSMENT OF MANGROVE AND SALT MARSH MESOCOSM FUNCTIONAL VALUE USING PERIWINKLE SNAILS, LITTORARIA ANGULIFERA AND LITTORARIA IRRORATA, AS AN INDICATOR
Swartwood, Stacy Lyn
Kangas, Patrick C
Although much research has been conducted on restoration techniques, questions about the functional value of restored and constructed ecosystems remain. Gastropods are a particularly useful indicator organism because they play a vital role at the detrital interface. This study addresses the question of whether the age structure, population density, and distribution of Littoraria angulifera in the Smithsonian Institution's Florida Everglades mesocosm in Washington, DC is analogous to that of wild populations. The second phase investigates these same factors, in populations of Littoraria irrorata at a reference site on Slaughter Creek and six mesocosm replicates at Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Maryland. Neither the mangrove nor the salt marsh mesocosms were able to support healthy, reproducing populations of periwinkle snails. Salinity, humidity, territory requirements, habitat complexity, precipitation, photoperiod, and tidal variation were identified as potential causal factors for mortality and the absence of evidence of juvenile recruitment to mesocosm populations.