Camouflaged invasion of Lake Malawi by an Oriental gastropod


M. J. Genner. Present address: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull, Hull. HU6 7RX. UK. Fax: + 44 (0) 1482 465458; E-mail:


In this study we report the first animal invasion, to our knowledge, into Lake Malawi. The colonizer is a non-native morph of the gastropod Melanoides tuberculata that differs substantially in external shell characters from co-occurring indigenous forms. However, because the species possesses extensive within-Africa geographical variation in shell morphology, it was unclear whether the invasion was range expansion of a native African morph, or a colonization from elsewhere. Mitochondrial DNA sequences indicate a southeast Asian origin for the invader, suggesting that shell variation found among indigenous allopatric populations camouflaged an intercontinental invasion.