Abundance, species richness and feeding preferences of introduced molluscs in native grasslands of Victoria, Australia



Abstract  Introduced molluscs have invaded endangered, remnant native grasslands of south-eastern Australia, but few studies have investigated their distribution, abundance or potential impact. Molluscs were surveyed in grassland sites across an urban to rural transect west of Melbourne, Australia. It was confirmed that several introduced mollusc species have invaded these areas. Three snail and five slug species were identified, none of which was native to Australia. The most common species was the brown field slug (Deroceras panormitanum). Mollusc capture and species richness were positively related to the degree of urbanization in the surrounding landscape. There was also a negative relationship with fire frequency. Feeding trials revealed selective herbivory by the black-keeled slug (Milax gagates) among native plants. Anecdotal evidence that variable glycine (Glycine tabacina) and button wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides) are palatable to molluscs was supported. Mollusc herbivory may potentially lead to reduced fitness of palatable species, and changes in community composition and structure.