Tag Archives: varia

Adaptive significance of arboreality

Seaki et al. (2017) have recently published the results of a field experiment in which they tested the survival advantages of living in a tree.

Arboreality has evolved in a wide range of taxa, but its adaptive significance has rarely been examined in natural ecosystems. Euhadra brandtii sapporo is an arboreal land snail distributed in a restricted area of Hokkaido, Japan. We hypothesized that arboreality provides the species with significant survival advantages, which we tested via field observations and experiments. A monitoring census showed that E. b. sapporo hibernates in winter in the ground litter, climbs into the canopy in early spring and returns to the ground in late autumn. This seasonal movement appears to be effective for escaping from predation by ground-dwelling carabine beetles, whose activity was high during the summer based on a pitfall-trap census. Manipulative field experiments were conducted to compare survival rates in arboreal and ground-dwelling environments. We collected 120 E. b. sapporo individuals in summer and tethered 40 in tree canopies and 80 on the ground; half those on the ground were covered by baskets to prevent predation by large animals. The survival rate after 11 days was highest in the canopy, followed by that on the ground with a basket and was lowest on the ground without a basket. Predation was the main cause of death, but some died from other causes. Similar results were obtained in autumn, except for higher survival rates of the ground treatments. Analyses of carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios suggest that the land snail uses epiphytic lichens and mosses as food resources. In conclusion, arboreality has a marked advantage in reducing mortality in E. b. sapporo and is probably supported by food availability as well”.

This seems a very well-conducted experiment which may have more general significance for other snail families with arboreal members around the world.

Reference:
Saeki, I. et al., 2017. Adaptive significance of arboreality: field evidence from a tree-climbing land snail. – Animal Behaviour, 127: 53-66.

 

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Bourguignat letters

A new paper was just published which sheds some light on the controversy between Bourguignat and Crosse during the last half of the 19th century. This is a publication of the project on the history of European malacology.

Reference:
Audibert, C., Backhuys, W. & Breure, A.S.H., 2017. ‘Une petite histoire malacologique’: two letters from Bourguignat to Crosse, or a story of friction between malacologists. – Journal of Conchology, 42: 407–411.

Petit de la Saussaye

Just published: a study about Petit de la Saussaye, the founder of the Journal de conchyliologie in 1850. The paper gives a short biography, his bibliography, a list of his described taxa and some of his correspondence that was found in an archive.

Reference:
Breure, A.S.H. & Backhuys, W., 2017. Sauveur Abel Aubert Petit de la Saussaye (1792–1870), his malacological work and taxa, with notes on his correspondence. – Archiv für Molluskenkunde, 146: 71-96.

Philippi and his malacological contribution

Just published in the latest issue of the journal Malacologia: two papers authored by Coan and Kabat on the life of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808-1904) and his contributions to malacology.

This paper provides a biography of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808–1904), emphasizing his malacological research and his contributions to the natural history of Chile. Philippi is one of the most important, yet overlooked malacologists of the 19th century. He authored significant publications on the Recent and fossil molluscs of Sicily; the Oligocene fossil molluscs of northern Germany; the Jurassic to Recent molluscs of Chile, and marine molluscs from around the world. Philippi was also an instrumental contributor to both the Zeitschrift für Malakozoologie and the second edition of the Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet, and he founded the Abbildungen und Beschreibungen neuer oder wenig gekannter Conchylien”.

Rudolph Amandus Philippi (known in Chile as Rodulfo Amando Philippi), was one of the longest-lived and most prolific malacologists of the 19th century, as his scientific work began in Germany in the 1830s and continued unabated until his death in Chile in 1904. Philippi contributed significantly to malacology: he described over 2,500 new taxa of Recent and fossil molluscs from around the world (2,528 species, 40 genera and three families), particularly from Italy and Chile, and discussed numerous taxa described by other authors. Philippi initially published primarily on Recent and fossil molluscs from Europe in the 1830s, then expanded to marine molluscs from around the world by the 1840s. In 1851, Philippi escaped the German Revolution by emigrating to Chile, where in 1853 he became the director of what is now the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (Santiago) and a professor at the Universidad de Chile. Philippi’s contributions to malacology after his move to Chile were primarily on the fossil molluscs of Chile. Philippi also made significant contributions to the systematics of numerous other animal taxa as well as in botany. In a companion paper (Kabat & Coan, 2017), we provide an analysis of Philippi’s life and scientific contributions. This paper catalogs Philippi’s malacological publications and taxa”.

The authors undoubtedly have made a grand effort to bring Philippi to life, both in uncovering some unknown or obscure aspects about his life, and by bringing together a insightful review of his malacological legacy.

References:
Coan, E.V. & Kabat, A.R., 2017. The Malacological Contributions of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808–1904). – Malacologia, 60(1–2):31-322.
Kabat, A.R. & Coan, E.V., 2017. The Life and Work of Rudolph Amandus Philippi (1808–1904). – Malacologia, 60(1–2):1-30.

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).

References:
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.

Biosecurity officers alert!

On the “Mollusca” listserver the following newsitem was posted:

May I add another experience to it?

When Valentín Mogollón and I described a new species last year in our paper Synopsis…, viz. Thaumastus sumaqwayqu, I returned the three specimens (shells only) which served as paratypes to Peru.

Our museum staff, very well experienced in shipments of biological material, sent the material with registered mail addressed to Mogollón. And indeed, we were “very upset” when shortly after the package had been shipped, we learned that quarantaine officers in Lima had seized the package as there was a (new) form missing from the accompanying papers.

Not being able to import the type material into the country, we requested to have it returned. But to our astonishment this appeared impossible. For the return shipment too the same form about the ‘health’ of the material (shells only!) was needed…

A truly Catch-22 situation.

After some deliberation only one conclusion was possible: there was no way out and the specimens had to be destroyed. What indeed happened.

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.

Update:
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.

References:
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.