Intraspecific life-history variation in Radix plicatulus (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Lymnaeidae)



Life-histories of Radix plicatulus (Benson, 1842) populations inhabiting two neighbouring sites on a Hong Kong stream were investigated. In one of the two sites, R. plicatulus co-occurred with high densities of Pomacea levior which is known to prey on the egg capsules and hatchlings of sympatric gastropods. On the basis of general life-history theory, I hypothesized that R. plicatulus which co-occurred with P. levior should exhibit a life-history strategy characterized by a delayed reproduction, a longer recruitment period and a larger number of breeding bouts per year as compared with contemporaries inhabiting the other site with low P. levior abundance. Reproductive patterns of the two populations observed in the field accorded with the expectations of general life-history theory, and lent support to the hypothesis. However, laboratory culture experiments revealed no evidence of a genetic basis for the interpopulation differences. The importance of establishing a genetic basis for the interpopulation divergence before invoking an evolutionary explanation was discussed.