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In some animals, unfamiliarity with a place and the presence of a conspecific can change movement patterns, often altering individuals’ routes, exploration, and the directions taken. Patterns such as these can affect individual survival, and thus might be present across a wide range of taxa, although mostly vertebrates have been studied. We used a native Kentucky land snail (white-lipped globe snail, Cepaea hortensis) to investigate how snail size, familiarity and the recent presence of a conspecific affect movement of snails in a novel environment. We also tested whether presence of a familiar smell influenced movement on a 25X25 cm2 glass plate. Size, familiarity, and signs of a conspecific all affected movement patterns. For example, small snails delayed longer before moving, paused more, travelled shorter distances, and made more convoluted paths than did large snails. When a familiar odor was present, snails travelled further and made more direct trails. For both large and small snails, the second snail in a trial made longer trails and travelled further from the start than the first snail. The second snail did not trace the path of the first, but did go in the same general direction more frequently than expected by chance. When investigating a novel environment, the snails made surprisingly complex decisions about their route and pattern of movement depending on the presence of a familiar smell or signs of a conspecific. These cues and snail size play a vital role in movement decisions, and may help individuals find sites that increase survival

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land snails, conspecifics, cues, movement


Behavior and Ethology

Conspecifics and Familiar Odors Alter Movement Patterns in a Land Snail, Cepaea hortensis