Image caption: Ramshorn snails (Planorbidae) heading towards their green bean meal.
New Master’s student Kira Yerofeev is in the early stages of her thesis project set-up. The general question she hopes to answer with her project is “How does round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) predation affect snail behavior?” Snails have some remarkable predator avoidance behaviors documented in the literature. For example, several species adjust their locations differently when faced with different predators, crawling up plant stems (and even leaving the water) when crayfish are about, but crawling down into the substrate detritus when water-column fish are present. Part of her research will determine if these behavioral responses are hard-wired to taxonomic units (i.e., avoid crayfish with one method and avoid fish with another), or if the responses are more flexible. She hopes to further expand that question and determine whether round goby predation affects leaf-litter breakdown as a consequence of snail behavior changes. While she refines her project’s questions and her experimental set-up, Kira is rearing 4 snail species in the wet lab at the Field Station. She hopes to collect round gobies for her project in the near future, too. For now, her work mainly consists of searching through literature, cleaning snail tanks, and feeding snails lots of green beans (a tried-and-true favorite).
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