Rapana venosa is a large predatory marine snail that is native to marine and estuarine waters of the western Pacific, from the Sea of Japan, Yellow Sea, East China Sea and Bohai Sea (Richerson 2006). It is now also established in many other parts of the world, where it is generally viewed as an invasive species with the potential to have a seriously negative impact.
In the Black Sea, Rapana venosa occurs down to 30 m in depth in areas with sandy bottoms, as well as in rocky and muddy habitats (Culha et al. 2009). Harding and Mann (1999) report that in the lower Chesapeake Bay (USA), Rapana venosa inhabits subtidal hard bottom habitats, where it can feed, mate, and move while completely burrowed. Rapana venosa is ecologically flexible, able to tolerate low salinity, low oxygen, and significantly polluted water (Gilberto et al. 2006; Culha et al. 2009). It feeds at night and is often found in locations that are hard to sample, making early detection of newly established populations difficult (Harding et al. 2007).
Working with animals from the Chesapeake Bay region (Virginia, USA), Harding et al. (2007) found significant differences in predation strategies and prey species consumed between the introduced veined Rapana venosa and the smaller, native Atlantic oyster drills (Urosalpinx cinerea). As Rapana venosa becomes more prevalent, these differences could result in considerable disruption of the trophic structure (feeding relationships among species) of Chesapeake Bay.
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