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Non-Native Species of the Gulf of Mexico
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Photo by Martin Kohl
Scientific Name: Tarebia granifera
Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS): 71539
Other scientific names appearing in the literature of this species:
Thiara granifera, Melania granifera, Tarebia lateritia.
Common Name: Quilted melania
The shell of the quilted melania is considerably variable in obesity and sculpture rugosity. The shell is sculptured with prominent nodes overlapping suture and forming crenulations. The base of the last whorl has prominent spiral ridges. The shell is always uniformly brown. It is approximately 0.38-0.41 times as wide as it is high (Thompson, 1984). There is some disagreement regarding whether or not the quilted melania established in the Gulf ecosystem compromises more than one species (Thompson, 1984).
The quilted melania is an aquatic snail capable of maintaining high densities in a variety of habitats (Prentice, 1983). It can be found in most any body of freshwater from rivers, streams, and lakes to drainage ditches, irrigation canals, cement ponds, and swamps (Chaniotis et al., 1980a). The riffles of shallow fast-flowing freshwater streams seem to be preferred (Lachner et al., 1970). Quilted melania are typically found in shallow water of one foot or less, but can be found in small numbers to depths of four feet (Chaniotis et al., 1980a).
Salinity Tolerance: This species typically occurs in freshwaters and does not appear to tolerate salt water well. Chaniotis et al. (1980a) reported specimens burying themselves in response to rising salinity.
Temperature Tolerance: Chaniotis et al. (1980b) reported a lower lethal temperature for specimens under experimental conditions of 7°C. Generally, this species is not found in water under 10°C (Abbot, 1952).
Reproduction and Fecundity: Quilted melania are ovoviviparous with a well developed brood pouch on the top of the head and neck, and a birth pore on the right side of the head at the level of the mantle edge (Chaniotis et al., 1980c). Although males have been reported (Chaniotis et al., 1980c), this species is parthogenic (Morrison, 1954; Chaniotis et al., 1980c; Prentice, 1983). When they are present, males appear to be non-functional given their sperm ducts have a blind termination (Chaniotis et al., 1980c). Maturity can be reached 97 days after birth when specimens are as small as 6mm shell length (Chaniotis et al., 1980a). Young are release into the environment when they are approximately 2mm in length (Prentice, 1983).
Trophic Interactions: This species probably feeds on algae, associated microorganisms, and small particles of organic matter (Ogesby, 1977; Chaniotis et al., 1980a; Prentice, 1983). Prentice (1983) reported this species to feed mainly on diatoms and detritus, not disturbing growing vegetation.
Chaniotis et al. (1980a) reported a maximum shell length of 35mm for several thousand specimens measured in Puerto Rico.
This species naturally occurs from India and Ceylon east to the Philippines and Hawaii, north to southern Japan, and south to the Society Islands (Abbot, 1952). I
For the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, this species is established in Lithia Springs, Hillsborough county, Florida (Lachner et al., 1970; Dundee, 1974). In Florida, it has also been reported from Miami and Coral Gables in Dade county (Chaniotis et al., 1980a). For Texas, it has been reported from the San Antonio River in Bexar county, Landa Park in New Braunfels, Comal county (Murray, 1964; Dundee, 1974), and the San Marcos River (Howells, 1992). The quilted melania has been introduced to other areas of the United States and is present on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts (Lachner et al., 1970), as well as Central and possibly South America (Jacobson, 1978; Chaniotis et al., 1980a; Chaniotis et al., 1980c).
Interest to Fisheries:
This species is commonly sold in the pet trade industry (Oglesby, 1977).
Current Status of this Species in the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem:
The quilted melania was first reported for the United States from Lithia Springs, Hillsborough county, Florida by C.W. Cooke of the U.S. Geological Survey in December of 1947 (Morrison, 1954). It was probably introduced from Hawaii (Morrison, 1954; Oglesby, 1977). Other areas of Florida with healthy populations of quilted melania include Miami and Coral Gables (Chaniotis et al., 1980c). Thompson (1984) qualified this species as "abundant in some springs and small streams of Florida". For Texas, this species has been collected from the San Antonio River in Bexar county, Landa Park in New Braunfels, Comal county (Dundee, 1974), and in the San Marcos River (Howells, 1992). Murray (1964) and Murray and Stewart (1968) reported a healthy population from effluents of the San Antonio Zoo. Murray and Stewart (1968) reported the first trematodes found in quilted melania from North America. They found 35 rediae in the digestive glands of 10 specimens collected in the vecinity of the San Antonio Zoo. The authors could not identify the trematode but speculated it was an avian trematode belonging to the family Echinostomatidae. Quilted melania have been introduced into many parts of their non-native range through the pet trade industry (Lachner et al., 1970; Oglesby, 1977).
Quilted melania serve as intermediate hosts to numerous trematodes which as adults are known to parasitize man, including the oriental lungfluke, Paragonimus westermani (Morrison, 1954; Murray, 1964; Lachner et al., 1970; Jacobson, 1975; Chaniotis et al., 1980a; Chaniotis et al., 1980c; Thompson, 1984). A second intermediate host such as a freshwater crayfish or crab is a necessary part of the life cycle of the oriental lungfluke. For human infection to be successful, the infected crustacean must be eaten raw (Lachner et al., 1970). Other trematodes of concern carried by quilted melania include Philophthalmus megalurus which affects the nictating membrane of aquatic birds (Jacobson, 1975), and Metagonimus yokogawai (Murray and Stewart, 1968). Murray and Haines (1969) reported heavy infections of specimens in and around the San Antonio Zoo, Texas, with radiae of Philophthalmus sp.
Where introduced to other areas of the United States and America, this species has been reported to compete with native molluscs (Murray, 1971; Jacobson, 1975; Oglesby, 1977; Chaniotis et al., 1980c). Chaniotis et al. (1980a) reported this species as the most common snail in Puerto Rico, to which it was not introduced until 1954 (Harry and Aldrich, 1958). Jacobson (1975) expressed concern over the possible detrimental effects of this species on native melanids of the genus Hemisinus in Cuba. Oglesby (1977) reported possible competition for trophic resources with native pupfishes in California. Similar negative interactions with native species may occur within the Gulf ecosystem.
Because of its ability to displace snails where introduced, the quilted melania has been considered for use as a biological control agent. Prentice (1983) reported displacement of the snail Biomphalaria glabrata, which is a major intermediate host of Schistosoma mansoni in St. Lucia.
In addition, this species appears to tolerate pollution well (Chaniotis et al., 1980a), which make it especially apt for colonizing altered habitats.
Abbott, R. T. 1952. A study of an intermediate snail host (Thira granifera) of the Oriental lung fluke (Paragonimus). Proceedings of the United States National Museum 102(3292):71-116.
Chiniotis, B.N.C., J.M. Butler, Jr., F. Ferguson, and W.R. Jobin. 1980. Bionomics Of Tarebia Granifera (Gastropoda: Thiaridae) In Puerto Rico, An Asiatic Vector Of Paragonimiasis Westermani. Caribbean Journal Of Science 16(1-4):81-90.
Chiniotis, B.N.C., J.M. Butler, Jr., F. Ferguson, and W.R. Jobin. 1980. Presence Of Males In Puerto Rican Thiara (Tarebia) Granifera (Gastropoda: Thiaridae), A Snail Thought To Be Parthogenic. Caribbean Journal Of Science 16(1-4):95-97.
Chiniotis, B.N.C., J.M. Butler, Jr., F. Ferguson, and W.R. Jobin. 1980. Thermal Limits, Desiccation Tolerance, and Humidity Reactions Of Thiara (Tarebia) Granifera Mauiensis (Gastropoda: Thiaridae) Host Of The Asiatic Lung Fluke Disease. Caribbean Journal Of Science 16(1-4):91-93.
Dundee, D. S. 1974. Catalog of introduced molluscs of eastern North America (North of Mexico). Sterkiana 55:1-37'.
Harry, H.W., and D.V. Aldrich. 1958. The Ecology Of Australorbis Glabratus In Puerto Rico. Bulletin Of The World Health Organization 18:819-832.
Howells, R. G. 1992. Annotated list of introduced non-native fishes, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants in Texas waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Management Data Series 78, Austin, TX. 19 pp.
Jacobson, M.K. 1975. The Freshwater Prosobranch, Tarebia Granifera, In Oriente, Cuba. The Nautilus 89(4):106.
Jacobson, M.K. 1978. Tarebia (Prosobranchia: Thiaridae) In Cuba. The Nautilus 92(1):54-55.
Lachner, E. A., C. R. Robins, and W. R. Courtenay, Jr. 1970. Exotic fishes and other aquatic organisms introduced into North America. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 59:1-29.
Morrison, J.P.E. 1954. The Relationships Of Old And New World Melanians. Proceedings Of The United States National Museum 103(3325):357-393.
Murray, H.D. 1964. Tarebia Granifera And Melanoides Tuberculatus In Texas. Bulletin Of The American Malacological Union, 1964:15-16.
Murray, H.D. 1971. The Introduction And Spread Of Thiarids In The United States. The Biologist 53:133-135.
Murray, H.D., and A.J. Stewart. 1968. Establishment Of A Trematode Cycle In Tarebia Granifera (Lamarck) In Texas. The American Malacological Union, Inc. 1968:17-18.
Murray, H.D., and D. Haines. 1969. Philophthalmus Sp. (Trematoda) In Tarebia Granifera And Melanoides Tuberculatus In South Texas. Annual Reports For 1969 Of The American Malacological Union, Pages 44-45.
Oglesby, L.C. 1977. A Newly Introduced, Brackish-water Snail In The Salton Sea Basin, California. California Fish And Game 63(3):180-182.
Prentice, M.A. 1983. Displacement Of Biomphalaria Glabrata By The Snail Thiara Granifera In Field Habitats In Santa Lucia, West Indies. Annals Of Tropical Medicine And Parasitology 77(1):51-59.
Thompson, F. G. 1984. The freshwater snails of Florida: a manual for identification. University of Florida Press, Gainesville. 94 pp.
Other on-line references:
Date Created: 09/18/1999
Last Modified: 08/03/2005