Terrestrial gastropod species-specific responses to forest management: Implications for Parelaphostrongylus tenuis transmission to moose

William J. Severud, Matt Petz Giguere, Tyler Walters, Tyler J Garwood, Kim Teager, Katherine M Marchetto, L. Gustavo, Seth A Moore, Tiffany M Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Landscape management can influence the distribution, abundance, and diversity of the terrestrial gastropods that host known parasites of managed species of ungulates. Multiple taxa of terrestrial gastropods are important intermediate hosts in the lifecycle of the parasitic nematode Parelaphostrongylus tenuis, for which white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are definitive hosts. Moose (Alces alces) become infected with P. tenuis when they incidentally ingest gastropod intermediate hosts, leading to morbidity and mortality. Populations of moose in Minnesota have declined and P. tenuis infection has been identified as a leading cause of mortality. We investigated the role of forest management disturbance on the terrestrial gastropod community, and specifically known intermediate host species of P. tenuis, on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota, USA, where moose are an important subsistence species to the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Field crews surveyed gastropods through timed searches of soil and litter, and opportunistic collections from browse and pellets of white-tailed deer and moose. We digested all identified gastropods to determine prevalence of P. tenuis infection. We examined gastropod community responses to management and forest cover type using multivariate regressions. We additionally used regressions to examine total gastropod richness and abundance, as well as P. tenuis intermediate host responses to cover type, soil moisture class, canopy cover, treatment, and years since treatment. Digestions detected no infected gastropods from the 621 identified specimens. Gastropod community assemblages differed with recent understory treatment, but no other predictors. Total gastropod abundance, richness, and host abundance (liberal definition, including Deroceras spp.) were lower in sites treated within the last five years. For known intermediate host taxa, we observed species-specific responses to forestry treatments through time. Specifically, Deroceras spp. recolonized sites post-treatment (0–30 years), Discus cronkhitei were higher in abundance immediately following treatment, and the Succinea ovalis group, along with pooled intermediate hosts, displayed no discernable patterns. Our results underscore the complexity of P. tenuis lifecycles and transmission dynamics to moose, the importance of management disturbance and disturbance frequency in regulating gastropod populations, and the potential of forest management treatments to reduce P. tenuis infection in moose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120717
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume529
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank David Myhre for snail identification and digestions. Funding for this project was provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Tribal Wildlife Grant F19AP00035 Mooz (moose) habitat overlap with white tail deer: understanding the spatial and temporal risks of parasite transmission in a multi-species boreal system. We also thank Krishna Woerheide and EJ Isaac (Grand Portage); and Sara Franchuk, Nick Armstrong, and Trent Frances (Lakehead University). This research leveraged data gained from a long-term ecosystem health research program led by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (GPBLSC) and University of Minnesota. Thank you to L. Kantar and an anonymous reviewer for comments that strengthened our manuscript.

Funding Information:
We thank David Myhre for snail identification and digestions. Funding for this project was provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Tribal Wildlife Grant F19AP00035 Mooz (moose) habitat overlap with white tail deer: understanding the spatial and temporal risks of parasite transmission in a multi-species boreal system. We also thank Krishna Woerheide and EJ Isaac (Grand Portage); and Sara Franchuk, Nick Armstrong, and Trent Frances (Lakehead University). This research leveraged data gained from a long-term ecosystem health research program led by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (GPBLSC) and University of Minnesota. Thank you to L. Kantar and an anonymous reviewer for comments that strengthened our manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Alces alces
  • Gastropod
  • Grand Portage Indian Reservation
  • Intermediate hosts
  • Minnesota
  • Parelaphostrongylus tenuis

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