Tag Archives: mexico

Deroceras in Mexico

Just published a paper by Araiza-Gómez et al. on the distribution in Mexico and phylogeny of three Deroceras species.

“This study reports the current distribution in Mexico of Deroceras laeve (Müller, 1774) and D. invadens Reise, Hutchinson, Schunack and Schlitt, 2011, both previously recorded, and the first records of D. reticulatum (Müller, 1774) in this country. The taxonomic identifications were made on the basis of morphology and DNA sequences of a fragment of the cytochrome oxidase I gene. A phylogenetic analysis by maximum likelihood was carried out in order to support the identification and to explore the association of Mexican specimens. D. reticulatum and D. invadens appear restricted to the central portion of the country while D. laeve is widely distributed. Due to the invasive and pest character of these species, it is important to know their distribution in the country and the possible risk to native fauna and crops”.

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-20 om 15.58.36

This study used only the CO1 marker and suggests that for D. laeve three subgroups may be distinguished. Further studies using other markers and phylogeographical analyses are suggested in the discussion.

Araiza-Gómez, V. et al., 2017. The exotic slugs of the genus Deroceras (Agriolimacidae) in Mexico: Morphological and molecular characterization, and new data on their distribution. – American Malacological Bulletin, 35(2): 126-133.


Diversity of molluscs in Tamaulipas, NE Mexico

Correa-Sandoval et al. (2017) published new data on the malacofauna of the Edo. Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico. The abstract reads “Diversity and biogeography of Mexican terrestrial gastropods is poorly known. The terrestrial mollusks of the Sierra of Tamaulipas were surveyed from October 1988 to November 2005. A total of 482 samples were obtained from 30 localities, characterized with different vegetation types. Thirty-one genera and 46 species belonging to 18 families are recorded. The primary zoogeographical relationships are characterized by the presence of neotropical and neartic affinities (17 species: 37%) and the endemic taxa (11 species: 24%). The family Spiraxidae has the largest number of endemic species (6). The biogeographical value in this area is 3.78”.

Given the excellent work of Thompson with his checklist of Central American non-marine molluscs, I cannot say that I concur with the first sentence of the abstract. But this paper fits in the general picture of our current knowledge; there is a detailed species lists but not an overview of sampled localities.

Correa-Sandoval, A. et al., 2017. Diversidad y zoogeografia de los moluscos terrestres de la Sierra de Tamaulipas, Mexico. – Acta Zoologica Mexicana Nueva Serie, 33 (1):76-88.

Morelet and the Neotropics

Arthur Morelet (1809-1892) was a French amateur malacologist who has contributed much to malacology (nearly 100 publications, describing more than 700 taxa). He was one of the first malacologists who personally went on expedition to the Neotropics; a trip lasting more than a year during 1846-1848 which yielded nearly 150 new species collected on Cuba, and in Mexico and Guatemala. A few of these are illustrated below (scale: 5 mm).

The advantage of collecting in an unexplored area is indeed the reward to find many species new to science. But the legend above also shows one of the problems (possibly one of the least!) which Morelet faced: there was no Zoological Record or BHL mid-19th century, so there was a chance of introducing a name already used by someone else. Nevertheless, about 2/3 of the species described by Morelet from this expedition are still bearing his author name today.

In the 19th century not every author was able to give precise type localities; often they had to rely on information given by field collectors. So another advantage of collecting your own material: you knew where it had be found. Morelet, in many cases, gave (relatively) good locality data, but still described a number of species with a (relatively) imprecise locality; like “sylvis provinciae Vera-Paz”, a huge area.

As I had come across Morelet and his material for quite some years, I decided it was time to make an in-depth study of this man and his contributions to malacology. Since much of his type material has ended up in the London museum, Jonathan Ablett was willing to join me in this effort. And after more than 200 letters of Morelet became available, Cédric Audibert (Lyon) joined in as well. Together we are busy preparing a bio-bibliography with a list of taxa, illustrated with type material of as much taxa as possible. The transcription and translation of his correspondence will make it possible for the reader to get a much better idea of the life of a malacologist during the late 19th century. Currently we have located about 80% of his type material in several European and some American museums. The remaining taxa will be illustrated with reporductions from the original figures if these are available. Since Morelet started his career as a draftsman, he always paid special attention to the illustration of his papers.

To my surprise nobody has made an attempt to reconstruct the expedition of Morelet to the Neotropics, which brought him not only to the three countries mentioned above but also in Belize. Morelet was not only gifted with a special interest in malacology, but also in history and literature; his library had many travel accounts on its shelves. As Central America was largely unexplored in the 1840s, he published a few years after his taxonomic descriptions also a travel account of his own journey, aimed to a larger public, with many details on the geography and history of the areas visited. These two books allowed me, with some close reading, to reconstruct his trip.

One of the interesting things I discovered was the description of some species from areas, e.g. from eastern Cuba, which he apparently never visited. González Guillén (2014: 147) assumed that Morelet had confused the habours where his ship landed in eastern Cuba. However, from Morelet’s travel account it is clear that he never visited eastern Cuba. He must therefore have received the material from this area, on which he based his descriptions, from another person.

Our monograph is scheduled to appear during Spring 2018 as a book published by the Netherlands Malacological Society. The figures have been taken from a preliminary study which was just published (Breure, 2017).

Breure, A.S.H., 2017. Een expeditie naar de Neotropen: reconstructie van Arthur Morelet’s reis naar Centraal Amerika, 1846-1848. – Spirula, 411: 4-11.[Dutch]
González Guillén, A., 2014. Polymita, the most beautiful land snail of the world. – [Miami]: Estévez & Associates, 359 pp.

Champion shells

Ever heard of ‘champion shells’…? I had not, but since yesterday someone told me of ‘champion trees’ in England, I got the context… the biggest, largest. It must be a human fascination…;-)

Anyhow, I the most recent number of Shell-O-Gram, the newsletters from the Jacksonville Shell Club, I noticed an article by Harry Lee about a giant shell from Mexico.

“In the March-April SOG, a new species of Euglandina from southeastern Mexico was treated. It belonged to a truly remarkable group of carnivorous snails mostly from the highlands of Mexico and Central America – some of which exceeded four inches in height. Through the magic of the Internet, a concatenation of subsequent events led to the discovery of a truly remarkable mollusk shell belonging to a closely related species, also apparently limited to Mexico. The specimen figured above is believed to be the largest native terrestrial snail shell ever found in North America, which includes Central America.

Before the discovery of this leviathan, the largest known shell belonged to a congener, but it was not identified as to species (see sweepstakes tabulation on p. 9 taken mostly from the literature cited below). Now the sweepstakes winner is clearly Sr. Vinagrillo’s specimen. Olé!”.

Lee, H.G., 2017. Euglandina sowerbyana (L. Pfeiffer, 1846) – a true champion shell. – The Shell-O-Gram, 58 (3): 8-9.

New records from Baja California

Baja California is an area with a rather scarce land snail fauna, and limited focussed papers in literature. Clark & Salisbury (2016) report on a small collection made during a biodiversity survey inside the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve, where a new gold mine is being planned.

The snails reported are already known from other localities on the penisula, viz. Naesiotus rimatus (Pfeiffer, 1847), N. spirifer (Gabb, 1868), and Rabdotus sufflatus (Gould in Binney, 1859). A new record is a as yet unidentified Succinea species, which was only collected as dead shell material.

Clark, W.H. & Salisbury, R., 2016. New land snail records for Baja California Sur, Mexico. –Conchylia, 47 (3-4): 59-64.


Boettgerilla pallens in Mexico

Boettgerilla pallens Simroth, 1912 is a slug of Palearctic origin which has become invasive in the Americas (Canada, USA, and Colombia). Araiza-Gómez et al. (2016) now report this species also from Mexico, based on both anatomical dissections and molecular studies.


Araiza-Gómez, V., Ruiz, E.A., Naranjo-Garcia, E. & Zúñiga, G., 2016. Recent collecting reveals the presence of Boettgerilla pallens (Stylommatophora, Boettgerillidae) in Mexico. – American Malacological Bulletin 33: 227–231.