Barcode of Life update …..

The following activities were reported on by the mollusca team – see www.toyotaoutreach.com.
 
 
Dr. Dai Herbert
The scientists who are looking for mollusks or snails had a very successful day and found a very rare and poorly known species. There are very few records for this particular snail and it seems to be confined to the mountains in the region between Wellington, Ceres and the Grootwinterhoek area. It belongs to a family of snails, the Dorcasiidae, that is endemic to south western Africa. Most of the species live near the coast and some are capable of living in near desert environments, but this one is unusual in that it occurs in montane fynbos. Our snail folk were also pleased to find some living examples of a small pinwheel snail, which again seems to be a species restricted to montane fynbos. In these habitats snails are very few and far between, but the few that do occur there are particularly interesting and their conservation is a matter of concern because of their limited distribution.
 
Find of the day –Tulbaghinia isomeriodes
Mary Cole
A few comments from the Mollusca Expert Group
 
According to Dai Herbert (Kwazulu‐Natal Museum), with its emphasis on the barcoding of alien and invasive species, Toyota Enviro Outreach 2012 will make an important contribution to our knowledge of introduced snails and slugs in South Africa. Many of the most adept hitchhiking snails belong to families where the differences between species are small and they are therefore difficult to identify – even for specialists in their native range. This problem is even greater in countries to which the animals are introduced, because the necessary taxonomic expertise is often lacking. As a result some introduced species have in the past been mistakenly redescribed as newly discovered native species. Currently we know of 34 snail and slug species, which have been introduced to South Africa, but there are a number of others around which raise questions – both regarding their identity and whether or not they represent introductions. DNA barcode data promise to provide valuable insights relating to these questions, helping us to obtain a more accurate picture of the alien terrestrial mollusc fauna of South Africa. A number of species have invaded natural habitats and some are amongst our worst agricultural pests. In this regard the Western Cape is the most adversely effected region with over 30 introduced snail and slug species. Mary Cole (East London Museum) – One difference between indigenous forests in the Western Cape and forests in other provinces where I have collected (i.e. Eastern Cape and Kwazulu‐Natal) is that there are many alien snails in the Western Cape indigenous forests, both in terms of numbers of different species of invasives, and they can be abundant. Forests where I have observed this include: indigenous forests above Kirstenbosch,
 
Grootvadersbosch and Platbos near Gansbaai. In other respects the forests appear pristine until one scratch in the leaf litter. In the Eastern Cape, and elsewhere, invasive snails are confined mainly to gardens, and while one may come across the occasional slug in indigenous forests, one seldom encounters alien snails. Alien snails and slugs have been in the Western Cape a lot longer than in other provinces, but it is more likely that the climate or other abiotic and/or biotic environmental factors favours them more there than in other provinces, and hence they have been able to establish themselves with greater success. This project will strive to increase our knowledge regarding global biodiversity. 
 
Cornus apserum (formally Helix aspera) introduced European garden snail, was observed.
 
 
Kevin Cole conservationist and environmentalist
Mr Kevin Cole  employed by the East London museum for 21 years as a conservationist and an environmentalist. He shared his experience of the week:
 
“A myriad of colours and shapes have expressed themselves in the great diversity of plant and animal species discovered by scientists. This was during the 2012 Toyota Enviro Outreach, Barcoding of Life programme held at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve, a unique ecosystem of great natural beauty, near Worcestor. 
 
Combining decades of field experience in the sciences of botany, ichthyology , malacology and entomology, hundreds of species have been collected. These will assist researchers and future generations in the identification of many species of both indigenous and alien fauna and flora collected from various localities in the field. Bain’s Kloof, Grootvadersbosch, de Hoop and Betty’s Bay to name a few.
 
A common goal cemented the various disciplines together at the research laboratory set up at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve. It was encouraging and a privilege to participate in a programme which stimulates a sense of connectedness amongst all the participants. The same connectedness that, undisturbed, is noted between all living matter and the environment which gives it life.
 
It has been a wonderful week of challenges, surprises and it was a delight to meet and work with committed scientists in the service of understanding and interpreting this part of the Blue Planet we call Earth.”
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About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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