Tag Archives: ecuador

Achatina fulica east of Andes in Ecuador

Goldyn et al. have just published a paper of which the abstract reads “[w]e are reporting the first locality of invasive giant African snail, Achatina (Lissachatina) fulica (Férussac, 1821) in the Ecuadorian Amazon. It was found present in 32 out of 50 urban sites studied. The abundance where present was relatively high when compared to literature from other parts of the world. The snails were found in aggregations, usually foraging — most often on dogs’ feces. Statistical analysis suggests a preference toward this source of alimentation. This is the first report of such preference in this species, which is highly significant considering the possible implications. Besides the threat posed by an invasive species to the invaluable ecosystems of the Amazon, the pathogens transferred by A. fulica combined with a high abundance of the species in an urban environment and its food preferences may constitute an important health hazard for local human populations”.

This is, however, not the first published occurrence east of the Andes in Ecuador. The same authors have published this, and additional data, before in Folia Malacologica last year. If not an oversight by the reviewers and editor, this so-called “first locality” has to be blamed to the authors.

But the fact as such (if we exclude the many Brazilian occurrences), unfortunately, was waiting just to happen. Hopefully the Ecuadorian authorities nowadays know how they should eradicate this pest before it becomes wide-spread in this area which contain many endemic species.

Goldyn, B., et al., 2017. Urban ecology of invasive giant African snail Achatina fulica (Férussac) (Gastropoda: Achatinidae) on its first recorded sites in the Ecuadorian Amazon. – American Malacological Bulletin, 35: 59-64.

Two papers on CCP snails

Two papers were published, one very recently and one today, related to the material collected by the ‘Comisión Científica del Pacífico’ (CCP). This material was collected during an expedition that lasted from late 1862 to  early 1866 through several Neotropical counties. The material has been deposited in the Madrid museum and was originally studied by Hidalgo (terrestrial molluscs, marine gastropods) and Martínez (marine bivalves).

The terrestrial material has been restudied during a SYNTHESYS project last year, and has resulted in two papers. One dealing with the CCP material and the history of the expedition (Breure & Araujo, 2017), and one dealing with the publication date of Hidalgo’s main paper on the CCP material and related correspondence from him with Crosse in Paris (Breure & Backhuys, 2017).

The link to the first paper is here.

Due to an unfortunate coincidence at the proof stage (we unexpectedly received only one proof), the following corrections were not made in the published version:
Fig. 3 in the text (page 4) correspond to Fig. 2B
Fig. 4 in the text (page 5) correspond to Fig. 3A
Fig. 5 in the text (page 6) correspond to Fig. 3B
Fig. 6 in the text (page 6) correspond to Fig. 4A
Fig. 7 in the text (page 7) correspond to Fig. 4B
Fig. 8 in the text (page 9) correspond to Fig. 5A
Fig. 9 in the text (page 10) correspond to Fig. 5B
Fig. 10 in the text (page 12) correspond to Fig. 6A
Fig. 11 in the text (page 12) correspond to Fig. 6B
Then, after Fig. 11 in the text, appear Figs. 7A-7B (page 17) that actually correspond to the Figures 7A and 7B; later (page 17) appears Fig. 8G-8H that correspond to Fig. 8.
Finally, Fig. 27H does not depict Bostryx rouaulti as the wrong shell was photographed.

Breure, A.S.H. & Araujo, R. The Neotropical land snails (Mollusca, Gastropoda) collected by the ‘Comisión Científica del Pacífico’. — PeerJ 5: e3065 (142 pp.).
Breure, A.S.H. & Backhuys, W. Science networks in action: the collaboration between J.G. Hidalgo and H. Crosse, and the creation of ‘Moluscos del Viaje al Pacifico, Univalvos terrestres’. — Iberus 35: 11–30.

Achatina widespread in Ecuador

Several years ago the first introduction was reported of Achatina fulica in Ecuador. Goldyn et al. (2016) now have made a survey of its occurrence in the country, where it appears to be widespread.


“Distribution data on Achatina fulica Bowdich were obtained from pest control agencies and from a survey of potential localities randomly distributed in all provinces of Ecuador. Among the total of 1,236 localities, 1,065 (86.2%) held populations of the species. The snail was found to spread much faster than predicted and was present in areas not previously suspected to be under the risk of invasion. The most endangered and infested areas were the coastal and Amazonian regions of the country. According to the pest control reports from government agencies, A. fulica most often affected plantations of cocoa (24.8% of localities), plantain (11.8%) and banana (11.2%), but was also known to forage on 56 other species of cultivated plants. The survey of likely habitats in random localities showed a high infestation rate; urban and ruderal sites turned out to be important but largely neglected dispersal hotspots for the species. Regular observations on two populations in the city of Puyo (Pastaza province, Amazonia) showed that the growth rate and population density were high: reaching adult size took on average four weeks”.

Goldyn, B. et al., 2016. Notes on the distribution and invasion potential of Achatina fulica Bowdich, 1822 (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Achatinidae) in Ecuador. – Folia Malacologica, 24 (2):85–90.

Reviving Galapagos snails

Under this short title as eye-catcher, Villanea et al. (2016) recently published about an improved method to apply ancient-DNA techniques to identify material obtained from empty shells. The full abstract reads as follows: “Snail shells represent an abundant source of information about the organisms that build them, which is particularly vital and relevant for species that are locally or globally extinct. Access to genetic information from snail shells can be valuable, yet previous protocols for extraction of DNA from empty shells have met with extremely low success rates, particularly from shells weathered from long-term exposure to environmental conditions. Here we present two simple protocols for the extraction and amplification of DNA from empty land snail shells from specimens of Galápagos endemic snails, including presumably extinct species. We processed 35 shells of the genus Naesiotus (Bulimulidae) from the Galápagos islands, some from species that have not been observed alive in the past 50 years. We amplified and sequenced short fragments (≤244 bp) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 18 specimens. Our results indicate that the implementation of an ancient DNA extraction protocol and careful primer design to target short DNA fragments can result in successful recovery of mtDNA data from such specimens”. The crux is that the method seems to circumvent largely the PCR inhibitors that are co-extracted when using degraded shells. The resulting tree is given below.


One of the co-authors wrote me “We are really excited about this approach as it will allow us to include rare and potentially extinct species to our considerations of the evolutionary history of the Naesiotus group”. Methodical seems the approach sound, although it remains vague what exactly the inhibitors are. Given the more laborious extractions during aDNA work, it seems to me that the PCR will remain the bottle-neck. With more PCRs needed, this will remain a relatively costly procedure.

Villanea, F.A., Parent, C.E. & Kemp, B.M., 2016. Reviving Galapagos snails: ancient DNA extraction and amplification from shells of probably extinct Galapagos endemic land snails. – Journal of Molluscan Studies (early online access; doi: 10.1093/mollus/eyw011).

New paper

Faunal overviews are one of the key stones of biodiversity research, and I’m proud to announce that one of such (modest) contributions has been released fresh from the press.


The land snail fauna of several South American countries is very incompletely known despite quite extensive literature. For Bolivia there is only an incomplete and outdated list from 1953, Peru is covered by a name list only (2003), and Ecuador has a catalogue for the mainland Orthalicoidea only (2008). Other countries (Brazil, Chile, Argentina) are covered by recent works from local malacologists, and for some others (Colombia, French Guiana) recently overviews have been published, of which especially the one for French Guiana is also very useful for neighbouring countries like Suriname.

This new paper partly aims to fill that gap for Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru treating the minor families of the Orthalicoidea. Covering the three countries this synopsis summarizes all known species and part of their localities (from literature and some major EU museums). Also one new species is described. The full abstract reads: “A faunal overview is presented of the molluscan families Amphibulimidae, Megaspiridae, Odontostomidae, Orthalicidae, Simpulopsidae in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. These Central Andean countries are known for their biodiverse malacofauna, of which the superfamily Orthalicoidea takes relatively a large share. In this paper the five families containing 103 (sub)species, for which systematic information (original publication, type locality, type depository, summarizing literature) and distributional records are presented. All species are illustrated by photographs of the type material or, if this could not be located, by a reproduction of the original figure.
The following new taxon is introduced: Thaumastus (Thaumastus) sumaqwayqu spec. n. Junior subjective synonyms are established for: Plekocheilus (Sparnotion) Pilsbry, 1944 = Plekocheilus (Eudolichotis) Pilsbry, 1896; Scholvienia (Thomsenia) Strebel, 1910 = Scholvienia Strebel, 1910; Sultana (Trachyorthalicus) Strebel, 1909 = Sultana (Metorthalicus) Pilsbry, 1899; Plekocheilus (Eurytus) conspicuus Pilsbry, 1932 = Thaumastus (Thaumastus) hartwegi (Pfeiffer in Philippi, 1846); Zebra gruneri Strebel, 1909 = Orthalicus maracaibensis (Pfeiffer, 1856); Scholvienia jaspidea minor Strebel, 1910 = Scholvienia alutacea (Reeve, 1850); Bulimus bifasciatus unicolor Philippi 1869 = Scholvienia brephoides (d’Orbigny, 1835). A new status is given to Plekocheilus mcgintyi ‘Pilsbry’ H.B. Baker, 1963 (subspecies of Bulinus piperitus Sowerby I, 1837); Strophocheilus superstriatus var. prodeflexus Pilsbry, 1895 (subspecies of Bulinus piperitus Sowerby I, 1837); Thaumastus (Quechua) salteri maximus Weyrauch, 1967 (subspecies of Thaumastus (Quechua) olmosensis Zilch, 1954); Pseudoglandina agitata Weyrauch, 1967 (nomen inquirendum). New combinations are: Clathrorthalicus corydon (Crosse, 1869), and Cyclodontina chuquisacana (Marshall, 1930). Lectotypes are now designated for Bulimus incisus Hupé, 1857 and Bulinus piperitus Sowerby I, 1837”.


Breure, A.S.H. & Mogollón, V., 2016. Synopsis of Central Andean Orthalicoid land snails (Gastropoda, Stylommatophora), excluding Bulimulidae. — ZooKeys 588: 1–199. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.588.7906 (link via Publications)

Photo of the day (165): Naesiotus

Andrew Kraemer, postdoc at Idaho University, is studying land snails belonging to “the most species-rich group of animals in the Galapagos, the snail genus Naesiotus”. He posted several beautiful pictures on his blog, and Flickr pages, some of which I here reproduce to share them with you.


Naesiotus cf. perrus (Dall, 1917), Fernandina


Naesiotus cf. pallidus (Reibisch, 1892), Isabela


Naesiotus eos (Odhner, 1951), Santa Cruz


Naesiotus tortuganus (Dall, 1893), Isabela


Naesiotus ochseni (Dall, 1917), Santa Cruz


Naesiotus asperatus (Albers, 1857), Floreana


Naesiotus rabidensis (Dall, 1917), Rabida


Naesiotus nux (Broderip, 1832), Floreana


Naesiotus unifasciatus (Reibisch, 1892), Floreana

And of course, this is but a small part of the total number of snail species in this archipelago. For background information on the diversification, see Parent & Crespi (2006), who erroneously used a different genus name.

Parent, C.E. & Crespi, B.J. (2006). Sequential colonization and diversification of Galapagos land snail genus Bulimulus (Gastropoda, Stylommatophora). – Evolution 60: 2311-2328.

Brushing off the dust

This morning the ZooKeys editorial office made and sent out the following press release


In a few days time, the paper will be published…

PS: For those wondering if I’m now turned into a true believer of using press releases for every new paper…no! But I have to admit that the Madrid museum PR office seems to be very effective 🙂

Descubren una nueva especie de molusco en la colección de malacología del MNCN.
Agencia SINC
Bajo palabra (Acapulco)