The life cycle, population dynamics and productivity of Melanoides tuberculata (Muller, 1774) (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia: Thiaridae) in Hong Kong



An investigation of the life cycle, population dynamics and secondary productivity of the viviparous snail Melanoides tuberculuta inhabiting flooded furrows and irrigation ditches at Ping Long, New Territories, Hong Kong, was undertaken between March 1982 and March 1983. There was a single peak in juvenile recruitment coinciding with the warmer months; hatchlings grew quickly and were sexually mature before the next breeding season. Large animals experienced high mortality and few individuals survived until a second breeding season. Secondary productivity and the production: biomass (P:B) ratio of the population (13.43 g shell–free dry weight m−2 yr−1 and 4.81, respectively) were high and exceeded values of these parameters recorded for freshwater prosobranch populations in temperate regions. Ping Long M. tuberculata were exclusively female, as is typical of most populations of this species. Animals > 3.0 mm shell width (90–120 days old) had eggs and developing larvae in the brood pouch, and fully–developed larvae were recorded from brood pouches throughout the study although release of hatchlings was distinctly seasonal.

A comparison of life cycle parameters of Malaysian M. turberculata with those of the Ping Long population revealed a marked similarity. The significance of such similarity and the importance of parthenogenicity in the life cycle of this widely distributed snail is discussed. Melanoides tuberculata exhibits the characteristics of an opportunist or ‘fugitive’ species and, by virtue of its reproductive strategies and high productivity, is able to colonize rapidly and temporarily dominate vacant habitats.