Friday, September 8, 2017

American Malacological Society 83rd Annual Meeting Summary

Charles Lydeard, Elizabeth K. Shea, and Amanda Lawless

The American Malacological Society recently held its 83rd annual meeting this past July at Clayton Hall of the University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware.  The meeting was hosted by AMS President Liz Shea of the Delaware Museum of Natural History.  The formal meeting was preceded with a workshop organized by Petra Sierwald, Rüdiger Bieler, Gary Rosenberg and Liz Shea and sponsored by an iDigBIo Conference Award entitled Digitizing the 2nd largest Invertebrate Phylum: Mollusks.  The meeting kicked off with the President’s Symposium, which continued along with the workshop theme Mollusk research in a digital world: creating, integrating and mining large datasets and had presentations by Bieler et al., Rosenberg and Khoo, Vendetti et al, Zigler, and Vecchione.  José Leal organized a symposium entitled Mollusks in Peril and Heather Judkins organized one entitled Cephalopod Biodiversity.  The meeting had nearly 100 registered participants and the talks were all well attended including sessions on biodiversity with several presentations including one on malacology underground by Gladstone et al.; Phylogeny & Systematics with several presentations including one by Graf; Mollusk Collections with one by Callomon; Dispersal, Feeding Strategies, and Historical Ecology.  The evenings were also terrific opportunities to continue interacting with friends and colleagues including the reception at Stone Balloon on Main Street, an Auction, and an excellent cookout, which was held at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.  Field excursion opportunities also were provided for those who were able to stay the day after the meetings.  All in all, it was a terrific meeting and a great time for all. 

If you couldn’t make this meeting, perhaps you can go next year when, the meeting will be hosted by AMS President 2017-2018, Norine Yeung of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Hawaii.  See you there!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Source of the biologically invasive snail, Physa acuta

see note below*

  Physa acuta (also known as Physella acuta) is a well-known biologically invasive species that is now distributed over much of the world.  It was originally described by Draparnaud in 1805 from the Garonne River in France and initially thought to be indigenous to Europe.  Beginning in 2002, reports were made that perhaps the species was not native to Europe, but was native to North America making it an invasive species to Europe and Asia.  Recently, Lydeard et al. (2016) ( in the journal Malacologia, synthesized available reproductive, anatomical, fossil, and phylogenetic data and provided a compelling case that the species is indeed indigenous to North America and was introduced and described in France.

Recently, Maxim Vinarski, added considerable knowledge on the biologically invasive history of P. acuta in a paper published in Biological Invasions (  Vinarski surveyed a range of literary sources and examined molluscan collections to determine the first record of P. acuta in the countries of Europe, Transcaucasia, and Central Asia and trace their route of invasion.  Interestingly, he determined that the earliest records of P. acuta in the New World can be traced back to 1742 suggesting that the species may have gained a stronghold sometime possibly in the 17th century.  He hypothesized that its introduction was due either to accidental transport by humans or long-distance dispersal.  The continued spread throughout the Palearctic appears to be due to anthropogenic factors.

Vinarski’s research has really shed considerable light on the spread of a problematic, biologically invasive mollusk species.
Literature Cited

Lydeard, C., D. Campbell, and M. Golz.  2016.  Physa acuta Draparnaud, 1805 should be treated as a native of North America, not Europe.  Malacologia 59(2):347-350.

Vinarski, M. V.  2017.  The history of an invasion: phases of the explosive spread of the physid snail Physella acuta through Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia.  Biol. Invasions 19:1299-1344.

*The Figure is a 'portrait' of a giant specimen of P. acuta from thermal waters (Bad Villach) of Austria. In Central Europe (Poland, Austria) this species sometimes produces such thermal races characterized by enlarged shell size. It was once described as a species 'variety': Physa acuta var. thermalis. The shell is from the Natural History Museum of Vienna collection.