Snails survive ride through bird gut and travel in droppings

by Anonymous on Jul. 15th, 2011

Japanese White-eye: Snails have been shown to survive the trip through the bird's digestive tract.
Japanese White-eye: Snails have been shown to survive the trip through the bird's digestive tract.Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Birds are known to spread plant seeds by eating them and dispersing them in their droppings. But scientists in Japan have found that some species of snails can also survive the trip through the avian digestive tract. Researchers at Tohoku University discovered that about 15 percent of the tiny snails (Tornatellides boeningi) eaten by the Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus) survived the trip through the birds gut and were dispersed in its droppings. If this can happen within an island ecology, it probably means snails and other invertebrates could be dispersed over longer distances and from one island to another or from one isolated region to another. It certainly raises new questions of species radiation. The study was done on the island of Hahajima, located 600 miles south of Tokyo, and in the lab, and the findings published in the Journal of Biogeography. (In researching this I came across this related study done by T. D. A. Cockerell 90 years ago!)

BBC Nature

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Lucky snails.

posted on Fri, 07/15/2011 - 1:50pm
Jerry's picture
Jerry says:

These birds are fantastic. Are able to resist in very difficult conditions.

posted on Wed, 10/19/2011 - 2:57am

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