Tag Archives: ecuador

Photo of the day (178): Zoniferella

This photo was sent to me by Marijn Roosen, a Dutch student doing field work in Ecuador for an agricultural institute. The exact locality is not known to me, but nevertheless this picture shows a characteristic species: Zoniferella vespera (Jousseaume, 1887).



Naesiotus in ethnological use

Recently a paper on the use and economic value of the snail Naesiotus quitensis was published in a not-so-common journal (at least for shell enthusiasts).

The abstract reads: “The terrestrial mollusks in Ecuador present a high abundance of endemic species with different categories of commercial and gastronomical uses. In this context, this study proposes documenting the value and current economic use given to the mollusk Naesiotus quitensis, in the Sangolqui population on the market “The Tourism”, based on semi-structured interviews performed on 20 persons in November 2017. As a result of the interviews it was shown that the origin of the eatable snails is Otavalo city, located in the Imbabura province, in the northern of the country. This information has been made evident in studies that point out that the climate diversification in the mountain range of the Andes allow to have a great variety of mollusks variety in these regions. Due to this abundance people collect the mollusks in their natural habitat (“helicicolecta”) for use as a commercial and economic good; in regard to the economic value, a major consumption was reported for the presentation of this mollusk cooked with lemon, in small bags. In the categorical approach of use, two new categories were registered: the ritualist which refers to delivering it as an offering in cemeteries and the playful one that is carried out as games between underage children of the sector. With these results we conclude that in spite of the parish of Sangolqui being a place that still preserves these traditions, the traditional heritage of consumption of this mollusk from the elderly towards the next generations is not evidenced. This might be due to little investigation and welcoming of this species of terrestrial snail in people of all ages; for this reason, it is difficult to know if there is an irrational exploitation of this species”.

Schermafbeelding 2018-11-23 om 16.38.54

During my last visit to Ecuador I had seen the use of these snails as a snack food, but didn’t encounter the other uses. Although it interesting stuff for an ethnographer, I remain with what I have said before her: do not eat snails…

Gutiérrez Cantuña, E.B. & Guainilla Maldonado, W.R. 2018. Uso y valor económico de Naesiotus quitensis (Pfeiffer, 1848) (Mollusca: Bulimulidae) como alimento tradicional en la parroquia urbana Sangolqui, Cantón Rumiñahui, Ecuador. – Ethnoscientia, 3: 1–6.

Invasive apple snails

This time not a terrestrial but a freshwater topic: apple snails, or the family Ampullariidae.
Joshi et al. have just published a book on the biology and management of invasive species of this group. The book contains 22 chapters, divided into three themes: General aspects of apple snail biology, Country specific reports, and Management and use.

In the second section two chapters deal with Pomacea canaliculata respectively in Argentina and Ecuador.

The Argentinan chapter is written by P.R. Martin et al., the abstract reads “Pomacea canaliculata is in many respects the best known species of apple snails (family Ampullariidae), although the available information is both fragmentary and geographically biased. Most studies in its non-native range have focused on applied aspects in managed or arti cial wetlands in various countries in Southeast Asia. In its natural range the emphasis has been on basic studies of its reproductive biology, ecology and behaviour in populations from small streams at the southernmost extreme of its distribution (Southern Pampas, Argentina). The extreme geographic position and the lotic nature of these populations may have biased some conclusions about the behavioural and ecological traits of P. canaliculata; contemporary evolution and genetic exchange may also have diversi ed these traits in the non-native range. Even though the ecological information from native populations may not be directly applicable elsewhere, it nevertheless remains as a necessary reference to understand the full potential of adaptation and spread of P. canaliculata to new environments around the world. Surprisingly enough, comparative studies of native and non-native populations of Pomacea spp. are almost lacking. This short review focuses on the distribution, thermal biology, aerial respiration, feeding, reproduction, phenotypic plasticity and shell shape of Pomacea canaliculata in its native range in Argentina.

The Ecuadorian chapter is M. Correoso et al.; the abstract is “This article characterises and analyses the presence of the alien invasive species Pomacea canaliculata in Ecuador, a pest present in many countries that has severe impacts on agriculture, human health and the natural environment. For the rst time, a list of the native species of the genus Pomacea in Ecuador is provided, as well as an occurrence map, based on review of existing (but few) bibliographic data, museum collections and recent eld work. There is a lack of information on other mollusc species in Ecuador, but there is the potential for ecological impact of P. canaliculata on the native mollusc fauna, especially other Pomacea species, which may already be in decline. Other biological threats and consequences are considered, highlighting the impacts that the invasion has had in this Andean country. Also, events that have occurred since the detection of the pest are reviewed, in particular, the decisions adopted by the rice agricultural sector in comparison with those reported by other countries facing a similar situation. The epidemiological role of P. canaliculata in Ecuador is analysed following confirmation that P. canaliculata can carry the nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which causes eosinophilic meningitis. Cases of human infection and the possible routes of transmission are discussed, confirming that Ecuador was the first South American country to have cases of the disease. These results are compared with those for the giant African snail (Lissachatina fulica), a mollusc that can also transmit the disease. It is probable that native Pomacea species can also be infected with the nematode. Finally, a wide range of measures and management actions that should be considered, and possibly adopted, by Ecuador are proposed with the goal of controlling this dangerous pest.

Joshi, R.C., Cowie, R.H. & Sebastian, L.S., 2017. Biology and management of invasive apple snails. Muõz: Philippine Rice Research Institute, 406 pp. Available at http://tinyurl.com/y8aw4htb

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).