Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Melanoides tuberculata
(red-rimmed melania)

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Datasheet

Melanoides tuberculata (red-rimmed melania)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Melanoides tuberculata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • red-rimmed melania
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Mollusca
  •       Class: Gastropoda
  •         Subclass: Caenogastropoda
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. tuberculata is a tropical freshwater gastropod, native to eastern Africa and the Middle East, that has established widely throughout the tropics. It has demonstrated that it can rapidly colonize many types of...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Live individual of M. tuberculata in a field situation.
TitleIndividual in the field
CaptionLive individual of M. tuberculata in a field situation.
CopyrightJean-Pierre Pointier
Live individual of M. tuberculata in a field situation.
Individual in the fieldLive individual of M. tuberculata in a field situation.Jean-Pierre Pointier
Example of population density that can be reached in natura.
TitleAggregation
CaptionExample of population density that can be reached in natura.
CopyrightJean-Pierre Pointier
Example of population density that can be reached in natura.
AggregationExample of population density that can be reached in natura.Jean-Pierre Pointier
Different colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
TitleColour morphs
CaptionDifferent colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
CopyrightJean-Pierre Pointier
Different colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
Colour morphsDifferent colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.Jean-Pierre Pointier
Different colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
TitleColour morphs
CaptionDifferent colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
CopyrightJean-Pierre Pointier
Different colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
Colour morphsDifferent colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.Jean-Pierre Pointier
Different colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
TitleColour morphs
CaptionDifferent colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
CopyrightJean-Pierre Pointier
Different colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.
Colour morphsDifferent colour morphs of Melanoides tuberculata which can be found in the French West Indies.Jean-Pierre Pointier
Biomphalaria glabrata, the intermediate snail hosts of schistosomiasis, for which M. tuberculata was used in 1970's and 1980's for biocontrol programs in several islands of the Carribean area as competitor.
TitleBiomphalaria glabrata
CaptionBiomphalaria glabrata, the intermediate snail hosts of schistosomiasis, for which M. tuberculata was used in 1970's and 1980's for biocontrol programs in several islands of the Carribean area as competitor.
CopyrightJean-Pierre Pointier
Biomphalaria glabrata, the intermediate snail hosts of schistosomiasis, for which M. tuberculata was used in 1970's and 1980's for biocontrol programs in several islands of the Carribean area as competitor.
Biomphalaria glabrataBiomphalaria glabrata, the intermediate snail hosts of schistosomiasis, for which M. tuberculata was used in 1970's and 1980's for biocontrol programs in several islands of the Carribean area as competitor.Jean-Pierre Pointier

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Melanoides tuberculata (Müller, 1774)

Preferred Common Name

  • red-rimmed melania

Other Scientific Names

  • Melanoides tuberculatus
  • Thiara tuberculata

International Common Names

  • English: Malaysian trumpet snail

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. tuberculata is a tropical freshwater gastropod, native to eastern Africa and the Middle East, that has established widely throughout the tropics. It has demonstrated that it can rapidly colonize many types of habitat. It can reach very high densities up to several thousands of individuals per m2 (Dundee and Paine, 1977). It is a ubiquitous species and can tolerate a broad spectrum of environmental conditions. It is able to colonize disturbed habitats (especially man-made habitats) such as garden ponds, artificial lakes and irrigation systems. Reproduction is mainly by parthenogenesis (Jacob, 1957) but sexual reproduction does occur, with a resulting increase in genetic variance and/or heterosis effect (Facon et al., 2005). These recombination events can produce new genotypes that may invigorate the invasive ability (Facon et al., 2008). In its introduced range, there are reports of M. tuberculata outcompeting native species, however, the consequences are not always negative. In the Neotropical region, especially on some Caribbean islands, this snail has reduced populations of Biomphalaria glabrata, the main snail host of intestinal schistosomiasis.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Mollusca
  •             Class: Gastropoda
  •                 Subclass: Caenogastropoda
  •                     Order: Sorbeoconcha
  •                         Unknown: Cerithioidea
  •                             Family: Thiaridae
  •                                 Genus: Melanoides
  •                                     Species: Melanoides tuberculata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Melanoides tuberculata is a tropical freshwater gastropod belonging to the Thiaridae family which is placed in clade Sorbeoconcha of the Caenogastropoda according to the classification of Bouchet and Rocroi (2005). It was described in the eighteenth century by Müller (1774) from the Coromandel region, India. Since its first description, many new species names have been given, as a consequence of substantial morphological variability, and subsequently synonymized with M. tuberculata (Starmühlner, 1976b). However, the shell of M. tuberculata exhibits an amazing morphological variation (general shape, background colour, ornaments and sculptures) that can simply be revealed by bleaching shells and which allows defining discrete morphs (several dozen described morphs), (Pointier, 1989; Facon et al., 2003). This variation has been shown to be heritable in the morphs studied (Pointier et al., 1992). These different morphs display very different life-history traits (Pointier et al., 1992; Facon et al., 2008).

 

Description

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M. tuberculata has a turreted shell with rounded body whorls that are ornamented with spiral grooves and sometimes axial undulating ribs well marked on the middle and upper whorls. The shells are pale to dark brown with numerous reddish brown flames and spots. However, characteristics of the shell (general shape, background colour, ornaments and sculptures) can vary according to the morphs considered (Facon et al., 2003). The spire is usually twice the length of the aperture or more (Morrison, 1954). The aperture is oval-shaped and the operculum is paucispiral, with the nucleus near the base (Morrison, 1954; Thompson, 1984). The head is tongue-like and constricted on its ventral side to give rise to the foot. The tentacles arise from just above this constricted area and are long and slender. M. tuberculata can reach up to a mean adult size of 20-40 mm depending on the morphs considered and environmental conditions (Pointier, 1989), but Murray (1975) reported individuals 70-80 mm in shell length in Texas.

Distribution

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M. tuberculata may have originated in eastern Africa and the Middle-East, although determining its distributional area prior to the increase in human trade (its main vector) a few thousand years ago remains problematic. Plio-Pleistocene fossils have been found in eastern Africa (Williamson, 1981). Based on a review of the available chorological and fossil evidence, Glaubrecht (1996) suggests that Melanoides colonized eastern Africa during the Miocene from the oriental region via land bridges forming in the area of the Arabian Peninsula. A first description of its distributional area included the inter-tropical belt of the Old World, from Africa to southeastern Asia (Pilsbry and Bequaert, 1927). It has since then invaded the whole inter-tropical area (Glaubrecht, 2000). 

In addition to the countries listed, M. tuberculata is also found in:

Brunei Darussalam and Nigeria (P David, CEFE-CNRS, Montpellier, France, personal communication, 2008)

West Bengal (S Raut, Dept. of Zoology, University of Calcutta, India, personal communication, 2008)

Sulawesi (M Glaubrecht, Inst. Zool. Mus. Nat., Berlin, personal communication, 2008)

Laos (G Dreyfuss, Faculty of Pharmacie, Limoges, France, personal communication, 2008)

Vietnam (P Jarne, CEFE-CNRS, Montpellier, France, personal communication, 2008)

Benin (M Ibikounlé, Dept. of Zoology, University of Cotonou, Benin, personal communication, 2008)

Democratic Republic of Congo (L Tcheum-Tchuenté, Faculty of Science, University of Yaondé, Cameroon, personal communication, 2008)

Cote D’Ivoire (Y Bony, University of Abobo-Adjame, Cote D’Ivoire, personal communication, 2008)

Mauritania (M Aminetou, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antilles-Guyane, personal communication, 2008)

Mexico (D Amaya-Huerta, Universidad Autonoma, Mexico, personal communication, 2008)

Trinidad & Tobago (S Snider, Dept. of Zoology, North Caroline State University, USA, personal communication, 2008)

Ecuador (P Morin, private shell collector, personal communication, 2008)

Wallis & Funtuna Islands (R Galzin, CRIOBE CNRS-EPHE, Moorea, French Polynesia, personal communication, 2008).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeHägg, 1903
ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Hong KongWidespreadNativeDudgeon, 1982; Dudgeon, 1986
East TimorPresentNativeJickeli, 1874
IndiaWidespreadNativeBrot, 1860; Pilsbry-Bequaert, 1927
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsWidespreadNativeStarmühlner, 1982
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeMüller, 1774Coromandel coast (type locality)
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeMüller, 1774Coromandel coast (type locality)
IndonesiaPresentReeve, 1859; Jickeli, 1874; Pilsbry-Bequaert, 1927
-JavaWidespreadNativeMousson, 1849; Benthem-Jutting WSSvan, 1956
-Nusa TenggaraPresentNativeJickeli, 1874; Jickeli, 1874
-SulawesiWidespreadNativeJickeli, 1874
-SumatraPresentNativeJickeli, 1874
IranLocalisedNativeMousson, 1863; Starmühlner, 1961
IraqPresentMousson, 1863
IsraelWidespreadNativeLivshits and Fishelson, 1983
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoWidespreadNativeDavis and Yamagushi, 1969
JordanWidespreadNativeBurch and Bruce, 1990
OmanWidespreadNativeBrown and Gallagher, 1980
PhilippinesWidespreadNativeJickeli, 1874; Burch, 1980
Saudi ArabiaLocalisedNative Not invasive Paladilhe, 1872; Ismail, 1990
Sri LankaWidespreadNativeStarmühlner, 1974
TaiwanPresentAdams, 1866
ThailandWidespreadNativeBrandt, 1974
United Arab EmiratesLocalisedNative Not invasive Ismail and Arif, 1993
VietnamWidespreadNativeJickeli, 1874

Africa

AlgeriaLocalisedNative Not invasive Bourguignat, 1864; Damme DVan, 1984
Cape VerdePresentIntroducedDohrn, 1869
ChadWidespreadNative Not invasive Damme DVan, 1984
ComorosWidespreadStarmühlner, 1976b; Morelet, 1860
EgyptWidespreadNativeOlivier, 1804
EthiopiaLocalisedNativeMartens Evon, 1869; BROWN and LEMMA, 1970
GuineaPresentJickeli, 1874
KenyaWidespreadNativeBrown, 1994
LibyaLocalisedNativeDamme DVan, 1984
MadagascarWidespreadNativeFischer-Piette and Vukadinovic, 1973
MauritiusPresentStarmühlner, 1976c; Morelet, 1860
MayottePresentStarmühlner, 1979
MoroccoLocalisedNativeJickeli, 1874; Brown, 1994
MozambiquePresentMartens Evon, 1860
NamibiaPresentIntroducedBrown et al., 1992
RéunionPresentQuoy and Gaimard, 1833; Starmühlner, 1979
SeychellesPresentMorelet, 1860
SomaliaLocalisedNativeFischer-Piette and Métivier, 1974
South AfricaWidespreadNativeAppleton, 1996
SudanPresentIntroducedBrown et al., 1984
TanzaniaPresentNativeBrown, 1994
-ZanzibarPresentBrot, 1862
TunisiaLocalisedNativeBourguignat, 1868

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroduced1960 Invasive Clench, 1969
-HawaiiPresentMartens and Langkavel, 1871
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced1975 Invasive Dundee and Paine, 1977
-TexasWidespreadIntroduced1960 Invasive Murray, 1964
-UtahPresentIntroduced2003Rader et al., 2003

Central America and Caribbean

CubaWidespreadIntroduced1987 Invasive Perera et al., 1987
DominicaWidespreadIntroduced1977 Invasive Starmühlner, 1984
Dominican RepublicWidespreadIntroduced1986 Invasive Gomez et al., 1986
GuadeloupeWidespreadIntroduced1979 Invasive Pointier and McCullough, 1989
HondurasWidespreadIntroduced1980 Invasive Clarke, 1987
MartiniqueWidespreadIntroduced1979 Invasive Pointier and McCullough, 1989
MontserratWidespreadIntroduced2000 Invasive Stevens and Waldmann, 2000
PanamaWidespreadIntroduced1971 Invasive Abbott, 1973
Puerto RicoWidespreadIntroduced1964 Invasive Abbott, 1973
Saint LuciaWidespreadIntroduced1978 Invasive Prentice, 1983

South America

ArgentinaRestricted distributionIntroduced1999 Invasive Peso and Quintana, 1999; Gutiérrez and Gregoric Vogler, 2010; Peso et al., 2010; Peso et al., 2011
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-BahiaPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-CearaPresentIntroduced1999 Invasive Melo and Cordeiro, 1999
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-GoiasPresentIntroduced1986 Invasive Vaz et al., 1986
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroduced1994 Invasive Silva et al., 1994
-ParaPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-ParaibaPresentIntroduced1995 Invasive Paz et al., 1995
-ParanaPresentIntroduced2000 Invasive Pereira, 2000
-PernambucoPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-PiauiPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroduced1998 Invasive Thiengo et al., 1998
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Fernandez et al., 2003
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced1986 Invasive Vaz et al., 1986
ColombiaLocalisedIntroduced2000 Invasive Velásquez et al., 2000
French GuianaPresentIntroduced2003 Invasive Massemin et al., 2008
ParaguayRestricted distributionIntroduced2000 Invasive Peso and Quintana, 1999; Peso et al., 2011
PeruLocalisedIntroduced1990 Invasive Vivar et al., 1990
VenezuelaWidespreadIntroduced1972 Invasive Chrosciechowski, 1973

Europe

GermanyPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1994Studemund and Rosenberg, 1994
MaltaPresentIntroducedIssel, 1868
NetherlandsPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1992Bij et al., 1994
SpainPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Gasull, 1974

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedStoddart, 1983
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedStoddart, 1983
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedStoddart, 1983
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedStoddart, 1983
FijiWidespreadNativeHaynes, 1985; Haynes, 1988
French PolynesiaWidespreadNativeSeurat, 1934
New CaledoniaWidespreadNativeCrosse, 1894
New ZealandWidespreadIntroduced2002Duggan, 2002
Papua New GuineaWidespreadNativeStarmühlner, 1993
SamoaWidespreadNativeStarmühlner, 1993
TongaWidespreadNativeStarmühlner, 1993

History of Introduction and Spread

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In 1927, M. tuberculata was found in various regions of Asia and Africa. Since then, it quickly invaded the whole inter-tropical belt mainly as a result of the trade in aquatic plants used in aquariophily (Madsen and Frandsen, 1989; Glaubrecht, 2000). Its invasion history in the Neotropics is well documented. Accidental introduction was first mentioned in America (Texas) in 1964 (Murray, 1964), and this was followed by rapid expansion. It was reported in Puerto-Rico and Florida in 1966, Panama in 1971, Venezuela in 1972, the Lesser Antilles (Dominique Island) and Louisiana in 1975, Honduras, Martinique and Guadeloupe Islands in 1979, Mexico and Dominican Republic in 1980 (Pointier and McCullough, 1989; Pointier, 1999). Later, other South-American countries were colonized, including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina (Fernandez et al., 2003). Today, most of the Neotropical area must be considered as either invaded or on the way to be so (Pointier, 1999; Quintana et al., 2000). Invasion dynamics have been thoroughly studied in some areas, such as the French West Indies (for further information, see Pointier, 1989, 1993, 1999; Pointier and Guyard, 1992; Pointier and Jourdane, 2000; Pointier et al., 1989, 1992,1993). Its expansion in the Australian and Pacific areas is more poorly documented. For instance, Riech (1937) recorded M. tuberculata in the Pacific islands in 1937, but its absence is not certain before this date. 

It has to be noted that the invasion of the New World has been proven to be due to multiple introductions of different morphs from different parts of the native areas thanks to molecular phylogeography (Facon et al., 2003, 2008). This multiplicity of invasions suggests that the species level might not be appropriate to count invasive entities in such a parthenogenetic taxon. Moreover, it implies that invasions of new morphs in the Old World would certainly often remain cryptic because the presence of M. tuberculata, not of any particular morph, is usually reported and/or checked for (Genner et al., 2004).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Argentina 1999 Yes No Peso and Quintana (1999)
Brazil 1986 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Vaz et al. (1986)
Colombia 2000 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Velásquez et al. (2000)
Cuba 1987 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Perera et al. (1987)
Dominica 1975 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Starmühlner (1984)
Dominican Republic 1980 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Gomez et al. (1986)
Florida 1966 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Clench (1969)
French Guiana 2003 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Massemin et al. (2008)
Guadeloupe 1979 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Pointier (1999); Pointier and McCullough (1989)
Honduras 1979 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Clarke (1987)
Louisiana 1975 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Dundee and Paine (1977)
Martinique 1979 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Pointier (1999); Pointier and McCullough (1989)
Mexico 1980 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Pointier (1999); Pointier and McCullough (1989)
Montserrat 2000 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Stevens and Waldmann (2000)
New Zealand 2002 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Duggan (2002)
Panama 1971 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Abbott (1973)
Paraguay 1999 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Peso and Quintana (1999)
Peru 1990 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Vivar et al. (1990)
Puerto Rico 1964 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Abbott (1973)
Saint Lucia 1978 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Prentice (1983)
Texas 1964 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Murray (1964)
Trinidad and Tobago 2002 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No
Utah 2003 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Rader et al. (2003)
Venezuela 1972 Pet trade (pathway cause) Yes No Chrosciechowski (1973)

Risk of Introduction

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M. tuberculata recently invaded the whole inter-tropical belt, mainly as a result of the trade in aquarium plants. Further invasions are therefore likely, especially of ‘improved’ morphs, in relation to the increase of trade in aquarium fishes and plants. Indeed, this common aquarium snail is often found as a ’hitch-hiker‘ on aquarium plants. They are often considered a beneficial addition to most aquariums, cleaning up leftover food and eating algae.

Besides these accidental introductions, it has to be noticed that M. tuberculata was subsequently used in 1970s and 1980s for biocontrol programmes in several islands of the Caribbean area (such as St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe) as a competitor of Biomphalaria spp., the intermediate snail hosts of schistosomiasis (Prentice, 1983; Pointier et al., 1989; Pointier and Guyard, 1992; Pointier, 1993; Pointier and Jourdane, 2000).

Habitat

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M. tuberculata may resist a broad spectrum of environmental conditions. Typically it is found in shallow slow running water (0.6-1.2 m in depth), on a substratum consisting of soft mud, or soft mud and sand. But it has also been reported from relatively deep portions of freshwater pools (3 m deep) with substrata composed largely of rocks (Murray, 1975). It can inhabit very varied natural freshwater habitats such as rivers, streams, ponds and marshes, but also several anthropized aquatic environments such as garden ponds, irrigation systems or artificial lakes.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Brackish
Estuaries Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Lakes Principal habitat Natural
Ponds Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Ponds Principal habitat Natural
Reservoirs Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Cytological studies have indicated that M. tuberculata exhibits various levels of ploidy depending of the morphs considered (Jacob, 1958, 1959). The creation of polyploidy forms would result from complex events, including polyploidization and fertilization of gametes with a different ploidy level (Samadi et al., 1999). For instance, the pentaploid form may have been formed through the fertilization of apomictic autotetraploid ova by haploid sperm (Jacob, 1958, 1959). 

The molecular diversity and phylogenetic relationships within the genus Melanoides have been studied by von Sørensen et al. (2005).

Reproductive Biology

M. tuberculata reproduces mainly through apomictic parthenogenesis, ova being produced mitotically (Jacob, 1958; 1959). This species is viviparous and juveniles are incubated in the brooding pouch (located in the head) of females, which have a wider last shell whorl than males (Heller and Farstay, 1989). The number of young within the brood pouch ranges from one to 70 depending on the size of the adult and on the morph considered (Livshits and Fishelson, 1983). The new-borns measure between 1 and 4 mm (depending on the morph considered (Facon et al., 2008) and their shells consist of a small protoconch and the first two whorls. Reproduction rates are poor when compared with pulmonate snails, but the survival of young snails tends to be very high (Pointier et al., 1991).

Besides its usual reproduction through parthenogenesis, M. tuberculata can make some rare events of sexual reproduction (Samadi et al., 1999). Some bisexual populations have been detected in Israel (Heller and Farstay, 1990) and Martinique (Samadi et al., 1997). Indeed, the ratios of shell-diameter / shell-height and penultimate-whorl diameter / shell-diameter differ significantly between males and females due to the absence of the brooding pouch in males (Heller and Farstay, 1989).

Unambiguous evidence of sexual reproduction has been reported in Martinique only (Samadi et al., 1999), and concerns two morphs detected in the 1990s. Morphological and micro satellite data showed that these two morphs are hybrids between pre-existing invasive morphs in Martinique (Samadi et al., 1999). These hybridization events involved unreduced female gametes from one morph and reduced (meiotic products) male gametes from the other one, inducing an increase of the ploidy level of the hybrids. After these sporadic sexual events, both hybrid morphs reproduce asexually and form new parthenogenetic lines (Samadi et al., 1999).

Physiology and Phenology

Studies in Martinique and Guadeloupe Islands (Pointier et al., 1989, 1993) allowed investigating life patterns of M. tuberculata under natural conditions. It showed that this snail has a demographic strategy characterized by a slow growth and a long life span (up to three years in some habitats). They revealed also that maximum reproduction took place during the rainy season between June and November (Pointier et al., 1993), but reproduction did not completely stop during the dry season. The estimated intrinsic rate of natural increase ‘r’ ranges from 0.12 to 0.27 and is similar to those obtained under laboratory conditions (Pointier et al., 1989). This species is active mostly at night, hiding beneath decaying plants and stones or burying themselves in the mud during the day (Livshits and Fishelson, 1983).

Nutrition

M. tuberculata is a polyphagous species. It is an aquatic herbivorous snail that feeds on periphyton, fine detritus, diatoms, epiphytic algae and decaying plants (Madsen, 1992). 

Associations

This species is ubiquitous and thus does not show any specific association. 

Environmental Requirements

M. tuberculata can inhabit very varied natural freshwater habitats such as rivers, streams, ponds and marshes, but also several anthropized aquatic environments such as garden ponds, irrigation systems or artificial lakes. It has also been found in marshy areas near mangroves and estuaries. However, it prefers physicochemical stability of the water through the year and homogeneity of the habitat. Thus it reaches higher densities in permanent water habitats than in temporary ones and population dynamics tend to be regulated mostly by floods during the rainy season and desiccation during dry season (Pointier et al., 1993). It supports a wide range of salinity conditions. Russo (1974) and Roessler et al. (1977) reported this species from both fresh and estuarine waters in south Florida. Roessler et al. (1977) found this species in waters up to 30ppt. It lives usually in water between 18 and 25°C (Murray, 1971), but Livshits and Fishelson (1983) reported individuals that bury themselves in the mud and hibernate in the winter in Israel.

Favourable ecological conditions for M. tuberculata are permanent and shallow waters, emergent plants and well-oxygenated niches (Pointier and McCullough, 1989). In rivers, M. tuberculata is mainly present along the riverbanks where it can find refuge from water turbulence (Samadi et al., 1997).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
A - Tropical/Megathermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Tolerated < 860mm precipitation annually
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
40 40

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) Optimum Highly tolerant
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) Optimum Prefers hard waters
Salinity (part per thousand) 0 4 Optimum 30 tolerated
Velocity (cm/h) Optimum Prefers slow running waters
Water pH (pH) 7.5 Optimum 6.5-8.5 tolerated
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 25 Optimum 18-35 tolerated

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Centrocestus formosanus Parasite Adult/Fry to species Amaya-Huerta and Almeyda-Artigas, 1994
Clea helena Predator Adult/Fry not specific Brandt, 1974

Notes on Natural Enemies

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M. tuberculata may play the role of intermediate host of several trematode parasites. These parasites may have a harmful impact on the snail reproduction, some of which have a sterilizing effect on their snail host. Several trematode species infecting M. tuberculata have been found in some invaded countries such as Mexico (Amaya-Huerta and Almeyda-Artigas, 1994) and Colombia (Velasquez et al., 2000). Predators of M. tuberculata are absent in invaded areas except for rats and aquatic birds. Other freshwater snails belonging to the Buccinidae family are predators in native areas, such as Clea helena in South-East Asia.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Flooding may be a local dispersal agent but it has not been properly identified. 

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

 

Some local dispersal agents include aquatic birds or cattle. 

Accidental Introduction


M. tuberculata
recently invaded the whole inter-tropical belt mainly as a result of the trade in aquarium plants. Further invasions are therefore likely, especially of ‘improved’ morphs, in relation to the increase of trade in aquarium fishes and plants. M. tuberculata individuals are now for sale on the Internet due to the fact that they are often considered a beneficial addition to most aquariums, cleaning up leftover food and eating algae. This could soon increase the risk of accidental introductions. 

Intentional Introduction


Besides accidental introductions, it has to be noticed that M. tuberculata was subsequently used in 1970s and 1980s for bio control programmes in several islands of the Caribbean area (such as St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe) as a competitor of Biomphalaria spp., the intermediate snail hosts of schistosomiasis (Prentice, 1983; Pointier et al., 1989; Pointier and Guyard, 1992; Pointier and Jourdane, 2000).

 

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aquaculture stock Yes
Floating vegetation and debris Yes Yes
Pets and aquarium species Yes
Water Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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Environmental Impact

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Besides its positive consequences concerning schistosomiasis, M. tuberculata may play the role of intermediate host for several trematode parasites of medical or veterinary importance (Murray, 1971; Jacobson, 1975; Dundee and Paine, 1977). The most important parasite infecting M. tuberculata is Centrocestus formasanus (Amaya-Huerta and Almeyda-Artigas, 1994), which is responsible for a food-borne disease in Asia. This parasite has also been recently introduced into Mexico and Colombia (Amaya-Huerta and Almeyda-Artigas, 1994; Velasquez et al., 2000).
 
Impact on Biodiversity
 
M. tuberculata has no negative impact on aquatic macrophytes (Madsen, 1992) although it has been reported to displace several gastropods where introduced (Murray, 1971; Jacobson, 1975; Pointier, 1999). Roessler et al. (1977) reported competition for trophic resources with Neritina virginea in Florida. M. tuberculata was also shown to outcompete Biomphalaria glabrata and B. straminea in Martinique and Guadeloupe Islands (especially in stable aquatic habitats) (Pointier and McCullough, 1989), and B. havanensis and Pachychilus largillierti in Honduras (Clarke, 1987).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Iotichthys phlegethontis (least chub)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)UtahPest and disease transmissionUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2013

Social Impact

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The consequences of the invasion of the Neotropical area, especially in some Caribbean islands, may be considered as a benefit for public health, because this snail has eliminated or strongly reduced populations of Biomphalaria glabrata, the main snail host of intestinal schistosomiasis (Pointier and Théron, 2006). However, it has to be noted that the impact of M. tuberculata on B. glabrata is variable according to the type of aquatic habitat (Pointier et al., 1993). Positive results have been obtained in dasheen-marshes (Prentice, 1983), water-cress beds (Pointier and Guyard, 1992), ponds (Pointier, 1989) and springs (Pointier et al., 1991) where B. glabrata was eliminated but the biological control failed in the marshy forest located behind mangroves in Guadeloupe and this area is still an active focus of schistosomiasis (Pointier and Jourdane, 2000; Pointier and Théron, 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Negatively impacts aquaculture/fisheries
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Hybridization
  • Parasitism (incl. parasitoid)
  • Predation
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Biological control

General

  • Pet/aquarium trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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M. tuberculata has often been confused with other thiarids and especially with Tarebiagranifera (Pointier and McCullough, 1989).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Two aspects of the invasion of M. tuberculata should be more thoroughly studied. Firstly, investigation into whether the serial replacement of morphs observed in Martinique (see case studies) recurs in other regions of the invaded area. Secondly, a more precise knowledge is needed of the locations and the interactions between the different morphs in the native area.

References

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Contributors

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28/07/08 Original text by:

Benoit Facon, INRA, France

Jean Pierre Pointier, Laborat. Ecosystemes Aquatiques Tropicaux et Mediterraneens, UMR 5244 CNRS-EPHE-UPVD, Biologie et Ecologie Tropicale et Medit., 52 avenue Paul Alduy, 66860 Perpignan cedex, France

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