Freshwater alien species Physella acuta (Draparnaud, 1805) - A possible model for bioaccumulation of heavy metals

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2019 Dec 15;185:109703. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2019.109703. Epub 2019 Sep 24.


In this study we focused on Physella acuta, an alien snail species in order to determine their ability of bioaccumulation of heavy metals in their shells, bodies, the difference in accumulation in relation to age classes, and the influence of ecological variables on the community composition and density. On the basis of the results of ecological, toxicological, and experimental analyses we aimed to study the potential invasive features of P. acuta in comparision with the native species Stagnicola palustris. The content of Cu and Zn in the substratum and ammonia in the water was strongly related to the patterns of distribution of P. acuta. The content of Cd, Pb, and Cu in the shell fraction was always significantly lower than in the body fraction. A comparison of accumulation with respect to the size classes of P. acuta indicated that the lowest metal concentration in the body was typical for the largest individuals, except for Zn. Metal content in the bodies of the native species did not differ from the content measured in their analogous group of the largest individuals of P. acuta. The lowest value of bioaccumulation factor (BAF) was found for the large class of specimens of this species for each metal. A distinct decrease in the value of BAF in relation to the size of snails was found for cadmium. A 100% hatching success found in masses collected from pond confirmed the high reproductive potential of P. acuta which can be a factor that promotes its invasive features following its ability to occur in very high densities, but not necessarily the ability of metal accumulation in the body. Physella acuta can be used as a model organism in the studies on the accumulation of heavy metals however, the extend of accumulation can differ among the age classes. Because of the high tolerance of P. acuta to heavy metal pollution, in the future this species can be found in significantly polluted habitats, inhabiting free ecological niches, and occurring in high densities in snail communities.

Keywords: Accumulation; Alien species; BAF index; Freshwater snails; Heavy metal pollution.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Fresh Water / chemistry*
  • Introduced Species
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Snails / metabolism*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical