Updated distribution and experimental life-history traits of the recently invasive snail Lissachatina fulica in Havana, Cuba.
The giant African snail Lissachatina fulica has been reported invading Cuba since 2014 and is now well established in areas of Havana and several nearby regions. This invasive species is of major concern to health authorities given its role as an important vector of parasites such as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the causative agent of eosinophilic meningoencephalitis in humans. Here, we update the distribution within Cuba. We also report on our studies of experimental life-history traits to assess the population dynamics and potential for spread of this species in Cuba. The experimental population had a very low probability of dying at first age intervals (Type I survival curve) with a life expectancy of 71 weeks. During our experiment, sexual maturity was reached after 22 weeks (individuals of 70 mm shell length) and eggs were laid regularly (mean batch size: 188±111.79 SD). We failed to detect any deviations from the mortality curve and individuals reached an average of 77.3 mm (shell length) and weighted 57.7 g after one year. Predicted curve models indicate that snails reaching their average lifespan of five years should attain 10-12 cm (shell length) and weight 160 g. The spreading of this invasive and vector snail has been tracked for four years in Cuba showing a steady increase of invaded localities. How fast and how far this species develops in Cuba is unknown but the life history parameters indicated in this paper show that it has a large potential to invade all areas of Cuba quickly unless a systematic abatement strategy is developed.