Tag Archives: cuba

Predation by fireflies

Sometimes one need to consult obscure papers in related disciplines to find some data on predation of molluscs. Recently a paper was published by Madruga (2018), reporting “a multiple-choice feeding-preference experiment was made to test the feeding behaviour of the larvae of Alecton discoidalis Laporte, 1833, a Cuban endemic firefly. It was found that in 60% of cases the larvae preferred to feed on Praticolella griseola (Pfeiffer, 1841), an introduced species of snail, considered a farming pest. Therefore, these lampyrid larvae seem to be a natural predator of this snail, which could be considered as a biological agent for pest control of the snail”.

As this paper was not readily available to me, I searched for it and by serendipity found an older one with additional data (Madruga & Hernández, 2010): “Alecton Laporte, 1833, with four known species is the only firefly genus endemic to Cuba. Alecton discoidalis Laporte, 1833, is its most common species, distributed in the western half of the country. Unfortunately, much of its life history remains unknown, as with the rest of Cuban representatives of the family Lampyridae. Larvae are associated with adults of A. discoidalis through rearing, and observations on larval feeding habits of this species are presented. Thirteen species belonging to seven gastropod families are reported for the first time as prey of A. discoidalis larvae. Our data suggest that these are generalist predators of terrestrial snails. A remarkably close association exists between this lampyrid and operculate species of snails. The later represents the most abundant and diverse group of molluscs in limestone landscapes, where the beetles are commonly found”.

Schermafbeelding 2018-11-05 om 11.15.40

References:
Madruga, O., 2018. Seleccion alimentaria de las larvas de la luciernaga cubana Alecton
discoidalis (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). – Boletin de la Sociedad Entomológica Aragonesa, 62: 321-322.
Madruga, O. & Hernández, M., 2010. Larval Feeding Habits of the Cuban Endemic Firefly Alecton discoidalis Laporte (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). – Psyche (2010): e149879 (5 pp.).

 

Advertisements

Translocation of Liguus

A recent paper (Aborrezco et al., 2018) on the same subject as my previous post reports on an ecological experiment aimed at conservation.

Their abstract (which might have benefited from a check by a native-speaker) reads: “The management of species, whose populations are being object of affectation for deterioration and disappearance of their habitats, is a real necessity to be able to conserve the biological diversity in areas of reduced superficial size, like the cays. The objective of the investigation consisted on translocate the local endemic snail subspecies Liguus fasciatus sanctamariae Sánchez-Roig, 1951 (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Orthalicidae) in cay Santa Maria, Villa Clara province, Cuba. The research was carried out in the cay with more extension and with more number of vegetable formations. The method of collection employed was of total removal in the created parcels and defined to such effects. All the snails were collected, counted, and organized by morphs and sizes, to carry out morphological studies and of scoring with indelible painting. The used method was Pre-Release Activation Treatment (PRERAT). The subspecies object of investigation assimilated the new receivers areas once liberated the specimen and with positive results as for the survival. It was concluded that the translocation of populations of L. fasciatus sanctamariae, a local endemic subspecies, polymorphic and charismatic, valued as vulnerable, will allow its reestablishment in areas near as in new with same potentialities would feed, what will allow to conserve this subspecies of endemic snail of the diversity biological of Cuba”.

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-28 om 10.20.02

This ‘subspecies’ belongs, if we accept the revisionary work of González-Guillen et al. [previous post], to the lineage of Liguus fasciatus aguayoi Clench, 1934. See also the remarks on pp. 75 and 179 in their book about the Santa Maria key populations.

Reference:
Aborrezco-Pérez, P. et al., 2018. Tanslocación del caracol endémico Liguus fasciatus sanctaemariae (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Orthalicidae) en el Cayo Santa María, Villa Clara, Cuba. – The Biologist (Lima), 16 (1): 9-23.

Liguus book

Just received the new book on the genus Liguus by González et al. A contribution that put some weight (3.4 kg to be precise) and size (4 cm on your bookshelves) to the subject.

Gonzalez 2018 Liguus_Title

Leafing through the book with much attention I noticed the following which will also form my review:

This book is the third book on land snails of the first author and the second one which is confined to one genus, the previous books entirely confined to Cuban species. For this book on the Orthalicidae tree snail genus Liguus distributed from Hispaniola to Florida, Adrián González joined forces with Pete Krull and Luiz Lajonchere; the latter has published on this genus before. The book has 10 chapters on historical studies, collections, palaeogeography, taxonomy of the Cuban, Floridan respectively Hispaniolan (sub)species and colour forms, biology and ecology, and finally conservation issues. On the enclosed CD appendices to several chapters and the bibliography is found. There are 161 (unnumbered) plates of Liguus colour forms and hundreds of colour photos of live snails. 

Liguus tree snails have catched the eye of shell collectors and artists since the beginning of the 17th century till today. They have many different colour patterns and hybridisation between several colour forms does occur, as well as gigantism and dwarfism. The result is an astonishing number of names for them, either officially or unofficially introduced which can be found in both museum and private collections. The book starts with a disclaimer “not deemed to be valid for the purpose of formal taxonomic nomenclature”. Although this seems a justified action, it is perhaps also a too modest action once one realises that 161 names are available for Liguus taxa (Appendix 11), plus several unofficial varieties and a bunch of manuscript names. The authors have neatly streamlined this horrendous chaos into five species (including Liguus flamellus and L. blainianus; if the biological species concept is applied only three remain: Liguus fasciatus, L. virgineus, L. vittatus). The core of the book is thus the two taxonomic parts (Chapters 4 and 5: pp. 63-279 for Cuban taxa, and Chapters 7 and 8: pp. 304-421 for respectively Floridan and Hispaniolan taxa), in which the species, their subspecies and lineages are treated by giving for each the original publication, the type locality, the description, their distribution and concluded by remarks. Especially the many Cuban taxa have not always been properly figured, and the authors have done much effort to search for these specimens and photograph them to modern standards. Almost each is beautifully illustrated on the plates which show 24 shells each, grouped in four rows. On several pages (pp. 73-74, 132, 198, 265, 304, 345, 411-412) maps are given that help to understand how the subspecies and lineages are distributed. Several interspersed plates illustrate the living specimens of one or more morphs.

Gonzalez 2018 Liguus_Shells

Gonzalez 2018 Liguus_Maps

The introductory chapters 2 and 3 present historical data, including iconography and collecting information. Many historical photos are included, and I spotted some that I have not seen before. A brief chapter 4 presents the geological background needed to understand current distribution. Chapter 6 bridges both taxonomical parts and treats a question that several scientists have been struggling with: the connection between Cuban and Florida Liguus taxa. Although many unanswered questions remain, the authors suggest that Liguus baby shells were carried on the wind of hurricanes from Cuba to Florida. They also suggested that these were relatively recent (geologically speaking) events. Of course, these and other questions needs further confirmation and future molecular studies may hopefully at least partially solve them. The final two chapters (9 and 10) are devoted to the biology, ecology and conservation of these snails. In the first one data are compiled among others about life span, population density, predation, host plants and trees. The last chapter treats habitat destruction, introduced predators, protection regulations and laws, protected areas and some suggestions for further conservation.

Gonzalez 2018 Liguus_Appendices

The appendices have been stored on an accompanying CD, which when I inserted it in my system appeared to contain one rar-file. After decompressing a pdf-file of similar size was shown, which raises the question why it was compressed anyway. The file has several appendices showing supplementary information, e.g., historical collecting field trips by U.S.A. malacologists to Cuba, the dispute of the holotype and ‘type’ locality of Liguus fasciatus, collectors mentioned on labels of Cuban Liguus shells, manuscript names and their current status, a list of available names, and additional ecological, anatomical, and conservation data. Together these form the first 58 pages. The final 30 pages are bibliographical references, a huge list in small print.

The authors justified write in the introduction “there has never been of book about Liguus that included every named form from the Cuban archipelago, peninsular Florida, and the island of Hispaniola”. In fact they have made a revision of the genus which is easily readable for non-scientists and, together with the many high-quality photographs, have done an amazing job. Are there no critical remarks to be made? Yes, but only a few. The plates are unnumbered and therefore no link is made between the text and the illustrations. Also no index has been provided which would  have helped to locate easily both the scientific names and person names in the book and appendices. Both points make the book less useful as a reference work. While the authors say “word can fly but writings remain” (p. 497), they would have done better to replace the CD (soon outdated) with a more permanent alternative; the information in the appendices is too important to have it not available.

My overall impression is that this work will be seen as a hallmark for the decades to come. The book will serve both amateurs and professionals and should not be lacking in any relevant library. 

Reference:
González-Guillén, A., Krull, F. & Lajonchere-Ponce de Leon, L.A., 2018. Liguus. The flamboyant tree snails: 1-498 + 88 pages on accompanying CD. F. Krull, 132 1st ST. E #105, Tierra Verde, FL 33715, U.S.A. ISBN 978 0 9847140 5 6. Price US $ 189.90 net (hardcover).

New Cuban Cerion

In a not so current journal, a new species of Cerion was just described from Cuba.

Schermafbeelding 2018-08-17 om 10.53.45

Cerion milerae sp. nov. is described from the type locality Punta Bejuquera, Gibara, Holguín province, Cuba. It is compared conchologicaly with Cerion paucicostatum paucicostatumCerion paucicostatum harringtoni and Cerion caroli aedilii. Anatomically it is compared with Cerion paucicostatum paucicostatum. With its description the number of species known from Cuba is increased to 148 and to 35 the number of species and subspecies known from Holguín province. An extensive survey in the zone showed that Cerion milerae sp. nov. is microlocalized, associated to Bayhops (Ipomoea pes-caprae), in sandy substrate”.

Reference
Suárez, A., 2018. Especie nueva de Cerion (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Cerionidae) de Holguín, Cuba. – Novitates Caribaea, 12: 43-48.

Cuban Callonia

The family Urocoptidae is very species-rich in Cuba, and the genus Callonia is but a small representative of this family, albeit very aesthetically. González-Guillén et al. (2017) just published a paper on this group.

Specimens of all western Cuban species of Callonia are illustrated, together with images of live animals and their habitat, followed by comments about recent field work. The putative relationships among species based on the morphological characteristics of last whorl soluteness and rib shape-orientation could be biased. Seemingly ecologic equivalent pairs C.loweiC.dautzenbergiana and C.elliottiC.gemmata are much alike in external appearance although genetic similarities, which have not yet been assessed, could be higher between species sharing the same range. A co-occurrence of Callonia snails with blackish lichen is discussed, raising the inference that Callonia use lichens as food source”.

These ecological observations are worth to be further explored. The putative hypothesis about the relations between the Callonia species can only be verified with molecular analysis.

Many thanks to Gijs Kronenberg for sharing this interesting paper.

Reference:
González-Guillén et al., 2017. Insights on the genus Callonia (Mollusca: Urocoptidae) from Western Cuba. – The Festivus, 49 (4): 332-338.

Geometric morphometric study on Cuban Cerion

Recently a study by Jonathan Miller came to my attention about Cuban Cerion species. Morphometric studies are becoming more popular, but the methodology may not be familiar to the readers and can be challenging to perform.

The abstract reads: “Cerion mumia is a complex of eight subspecies distributed along the north coast of Cuba from Pinar del Rio to Camaguey provinces. The geometric morphometric analysis presented here was aimed at identifying patterns of shell shape variation to test the hypothesis of colonisation through land bridges during the Eocene-Oligocene. C. mumia cuspidatum, the easternmost population, was similar in shape to the subspecies from the north coast of Havana, but showed morphometric differences suggesting allopatric speciation followed by dispersal. The shells from the west were more globose than those from Havana or the east, which tended to be more cylindrical, as shown by the thin-plate spline analysis. As a result of the morphometric analysis I propose to elevate C. noriae comb. nov. and C. wrighti comb. nov. to species rank and to include C. noriae hondanum comb. nov. as a subspecies of C. noriae comb. nov. I report a second locality of C. noriae comb. nov. at Playa Santa Fe formation from the late upper Pleistocene. Geometric morphometric techniques are useful in species identification through comparing new samples with type material”.

The author collected his shells in the field, photographed them in situ and released them afterwards. Therefore, as far as I understand, no vouchers are available in a museum collection of the material studied. This might be a challenging procedure and may hamper the repeatability of this study. Otherwise this seems a nice study with as outcome that this species group may be split into three species with disjunct distribution along the Cuban north coast.

Reference:
Miller, J.P., 2016. Geometric morphometric analysis of the shell of Cerion mumia (Pulmonata: Cerionidae) and related species. – Folia Malacologica, 24: 239-250.

Pinning down Tenuistemma

Under this (beginning of the) title, Uit de Weerd & Fernández has just made available a paper on the distribution and relationships of an Urocopitid species from eastern Cuba.

We report an extraordinary case of local and extreme shell-morphological differentiation within a group of otherwise relatively uniform eastern Cuban land snails. Analyses of multi-copy nuclear (ITS2) and of mitochondrial (COI) DNA sequences congruently place the ‘genus’ Tenuistemma, occurring monotypically on the Yunque de Baracoa mountain in eastern Cuba, within the more wide-spread species Pleurostemma perplicata from adjacent lower areas. This result is in sharp contrast with patterns of variation in supposedly diagnostic shell-morphological characters, namely (1) differences in both shell form and shell sculpture between Tenuistemma and P. perplicata, (2) the shell- morphological coherence of paraphyletic P. perplicata and (3) the resemblance between P. perplicata and phylogenetically and geographically more distant species placed in Pleurostemma. We conclude that Tenuistemma evolved from P. perplicata on the Yunque de Baracoa, a process that probably started between 0.01 and 1.42 million years ago. The remarkable set of shell features distinguishing Tenuistemma from P. perplicata probably evolved as a result of unique local selection pressures, possibly affecting multiple characters linked in shell development. This study provides a basis for further research into the evolutionary processes behind this remarkable morphological transition. To render the genus Pleurostemma monophyletic, we propose to transfer P. perplicata to the genus Tenuistemma”.

This research is interesting as it hypothesises on the local evolution of snails under different factors. As such there is a link to research on carinated species, of which a paper on Peruvian Bostryx is currently being prepared.

Reference:
Uit de Weerd, D.R. & Fernández V., A., 2017. Pinning down Tenuistemma (Pulmonata: Urocoptidae): local evolution of an extreme shell type. – Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, XX: 1-12. DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/blx041