Monthly Archives: July 2015

A faunal overview

Recently a new book came out, which is not directly fitting into this blog’s subject, but it is interesting enough to be mentioned here. Raheem et al. published “A systematic revision of the land snails of the Western Ghats of India”.


It presents on overview of 337 taxa of land snails from the western part of this subcontinent, based on revisionary work and providing colour photographs of the type specimens of all taxa, supplemented by distributional data from literature.
This book is thus not only a joy for the eye, but also a very useful reference work that set the standard for future work in the region.

When I was in Brussels I met the first author, Dinarzarde Raheem, and she presented me also with an illustrated guide to this faunal overview. This guide helps to identify in the field all genera and a number of the more distinctive species. The sample page shown here gives an impression.


The combination of these two results is both impressive and very practical and should stimulate local malacologists to investigate their fauna. Hopefully, one day, a similar result may be shown for (parts of) the Neotropical fauna too!

Raheem, D.C., Taylor, H., Ablett, J., Preece, R.C., Aravind, N.A. & Naggs, F., 2014. A systematic revision of the land snails of the Western Ghats of India. Tropical Natural History, Supplement 4:  1–294.

Terrestrial snails from Argentina

Constante Schizzi made me aware that since some time a new blog on Argentinan snails exists, based on his collection but made by some friends. Although it is in Spanish, there is a built-in translator for other languages.

Schermafbeelding 2015-07-23 om 08.21.23

The blog is taxonomy-oriented with good photographs of the shells and live animals. Species are treated one per post, with comparisons to similar species. In the earlier posts also some introductions to genera are present.

Schermafbeelding 2015-07-23 om 08.25.15

As far as I know this is the first blog of this kind in Latin America and will surely be useful for those interested in terrestrial snails from Argentina.

Dautzenberg archives

During the past two weeks I worked in Brussels on a SYNTHESYS grant. My goal was to complete my study of ‘autographs’ in the Dautzenberg archives, but it ended up in doing much more.

First a recap on Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935). Who was he and why is it important to know? Biographies of his life have been published shortly after his death (Lamy 1935, Pelseneer 1936), as well as more recently (Leloup 1967, Duchamps 1986, Vanwalleghem 1986). During ca. 70 years he brought together an enormous collection of about 4.500.000 specimens through exchanges, gifts, and purchases. E.g., parts of the collections of Ancey, Bavay and other were purchased when after their death their collections were auctioned or became on sale. Around the turn of the 19/20th century his collection was well-known and many conchologists, both amateurs and professionals, wrote to him or visited him in Paris. After his death the greater part of his collection came to Brussels, his place of birth, but parts of the collection are in Monaco and London.

The autograph collection provides handwritings of malacologists – both well-known and less-known – that are interesting to see and might be helpful to compare with collection labels to authenticate the writer. Also some letters were interesting from a biohistorical point of view. While working through the correspondence I wondered to what extent a shift had taken place during Dautzenberg’s active period (1866–1935, with publications from 1880–1933) between ‘amateurs’ and ‘professionals’. It is worth noting that Dautzenberg himself was an ‘amateur’, i.e. not connected to a museum or institution, although he was very active in the Paris local malacological community (with Crosse, Fischer, Jousseaume and others).


In the archives I also found some additional objects, viz. two ledgers in which Dautzenberg had kept a list of contacts to whom he sent his reprints, an address book, and his collection of reprints with a catalogue on index cards. These resources opened up the opportunity to reconstruct the contact network by combining both the information from the ledgers and the autographs, and check the reprint collection.


I ended up with a list of 480 persons who had either received from, sent to, or exchanged with Dautzenberg reprints (his ‘active contacts’); of course there were more people listed in his address book or had a letter preserved in the autograph collection. For all 480 persons the country of origin (with France divided into ‘Paris’ and ‘other regions’), and their status (‘amateur’ or ‘professional’) was determined, together with a period of first contact (1881-1898, 1900-1914, or past-1915). This allowed me to conclude the majority of his contacts were European (84%). Within Europe the majority (58%) was within France.



Looking to the balance between ‘amateurs’ and ‘professionals’ one can see a marked shift through time:


Of course these preliminary results need some careful contextual interpretation and analyses will continue. But I found these graphs interesting enough to share them with you.

Duchamps, R., 1986. Philippe Dautzenberg. – Apex 1 (2): 47–66.
Lamy, E., 1935. Nécrologie. Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935). – Journal de Conchyliologie 79: 183–203.
Leloup, E., 1967. Dautzenberg (Philippe). – Biographie Nationale  (Bruxelles) 34: 198–202.
Pelseneer, P., 1936. Philippe Dautzenberg. – Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique 66: 87–91.
Vanwalleghem, R., 1986. Philippe Dautzenberg (1849–1935), Belgische conchylioloog met internationale faam. – Strandvlo 6 (2): 31–47.


Epiphragmophora distribution

Geographical distributions of snails sometimes remain a bit puzzling, and Cuezzo (2015) has delivered another case where both a geographic gap and an altitudinal gap seem to exist.

“This is the first record of Epiphragmophora estella in Argentina, a species traditionally of Bolivian distribution. Specimens were found during several field trips conducted in the northern patch of the Southern Andean Yungas forest of Salta province. Morphometrics and qualitative shell characters are described in order to validate the taxonomic identification. Current species distribution is also reported”.

Cuezzo 2015 f2

This disjunct distribution calls for additional field work in Bolivia, a country which malacofauna remains poorly known.

Cuezzo, M.G., 2015.  First record of occurrence of Epiphragmophora estella (d’Orbigny, 1837) (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Stylommatophora) in Argentina. – Check List 11: 1496. Available at

Achatina now also in Cuba

The pest of the Giant African Snail Lissachatina fulica is spreading… A new report confirms its presence now in Havana, Cuba.

The giant African snail, Achatina (Lissachatinafulica (Bowdich 1822), is considered one of the worst invasive alien species in the world. This mollusc is also a concern to public health because it can serve as an intermediate host of the rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a causative agent of eosinophilic meningoencephalitis in humans. This is the first record of A. fulica in Cuba, where it is found in an urban area of Havana where it has become established in an area of about 1 km². Parasitological analyses revealed that all A. fulica were infected with An. cantonensis with an average 50 third-stage larvae in 3 cm² of snail mantle. The eventual spread of A. fulica to other regions in Cuba through natural or human-mediated ways could result in damage to autochthonous flora and fauna as well as becoming a serious issue for public health and the economy.

Vázquez, A.A. & Sánchez, J., 2015. First record of the invasive land snail Achatina(Lissachatinafulica (Bowdich, 1822) (Gastropoda: Achatinidae), vector of Angiostrongylus cantonensis (Nematoda: Angiostrongylidae), in Havana, Cuba. – Molluscan Research 35: 139-142.