Phil Darby, UWF
South Florida Water Management District
Lake Okeechobee provides regional flood protection, water supply for agricultural, urban and natural areas, and critical habitat for fish and wildlife. However, unnaturally high and low water levels caused by rainfall and droughts, respectively, but also by water management practices, have impacted this ecosystem.
In particular, the Florida apple snail, Pomacea paludosa, has a limited capacity to survive prolonged periods of drought. The greater frequency of dry-down events has devastated apple snail population dynamics in the lake. Using aquaculture techniques, the decline of the apple snails during times of prolonged drought could potentially be alleviated. If successful, the critical food supply of species such as the endangered Snail Kite would be safeguarded.
The objective of this project is to determine whether apple snails can be artificially propagated in a cost effective manner and on a scale large enough to stock the freshwater wetlands of Lake Okeechobee and surrounding areas. If large scale production of apple snails is possible, it will be determined whether this is a practical management technique to be used during times of low water conditions or following a drought. Researchers are examining captive breeding strategies, artificial diet development, culture techniques, and stock enhancement programs.
See More Aquaculture Programs