|A live individual of Physella acuta|
Physella acuta is a species of small, left-handed or sinistral, air-breathing freshwater snail, an aquatic gastropod mollusk in the family Physidae. Common names include European physa, tadpole snail, bladder snail, and acute bladder snail. In addition, Physa acuta, Physa heterostropha (Say, 1817) and Physa integra (Haldeman, 1841) are synonyms of Physella acuta (Draparnaud, 1805).
The etymology of the name Physella is obscure but could be ultimately from a Greek root. "Physella" (as a place name) is recorded in Giovanni Gemisto's printed edition of Pliny's encyclopedia, perhaps lifted from Ermolao Barbaro's Castigationes Plinianae where it is recorded as Physcella. The French naturalist Jacques Draparnaud was the first to describe a species of the genus Physella and coined the name.
Snails in the family Physidae have shells that are sinistral, which means that if the shell is held with the aperture facing the observer and the spire pointing up, then the aperture is on the left-hand side.
The shells of Physella species have a long and large aperture, a pointed spire, and no operculum. The shells are thin and corneous and rather transparent.
It was once thought that the indigenous distribution of Physella acuta is Mediterranean. However, when Physella heterostropha is considered to be a synonym, then the indigenous distribution of the species includes North America.
Physella acuta is a common species which is common in all of North America and Europe. The species seems to have first spread through the Mediterranean regions and then more slowly into Northern Europe.
This species is found in:
- Czech Republic – not evaluated (NE)
- Pripyat River since 1983 and in Neman River basin in Belarus since 2007
- and others
This species lives in freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and swamps.
Physella acuta is frequently found in anthropogenic reservoirs, occurring in warm water discharges from power stations and in some rivers, but very rarely and not numerously in clay pit ponds. It can survive well under temporary harsh conditions (extreme temperature and water pollution), as long as they are short-lived.
These snails eat dead plant and animal matter and various other detritus.
Because Physella acuta forages mainly on epiphytic vegetation and on the macrophytes, whereas other gastropods (Planorbis planorbis, Radix ovata) exploit the algal cover or phytobentos on the bottom, competition between Physella acuta and other gastropods appears to be minimal.
This species successfully co-exists with other alien gastropods: for example with Potamopyrgus antipodarum in many streams, lakes and ponds in New Zealand and with Lithoglyphus naticoides in the Danube River.
- 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Cited 30 April 2007.
- Draparnaud J.-P.-R. 1805. Histoire naturelle des mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de la France. Ouvrage posthume. Avec XIII planches. pp. [1-9], j-viij [= 1-8], 1-134, [Plates 1-13]. Paris, Montpellier. (Plassan, Renaud).
- Dillon R. T., Wethington A. R., Rhett J. M. & Smith T. P. 2002. Populations of the European freshwater pulmonate Physa acuta are not reproductively isolated from American Physa heterostopha or Physa integra. Invertebrate Biology, 121: 226-234. (abstract)
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- Physa acuta at AnimalBase taxonomy,short description, distribution, biology,status (threats), images