Vergleichende Anatomic, Phylogenie und Historische Biogeographie der Ampullariidae (Mollusca, Gastropoda)

Submitted by Steve Wilkinson on Mon, 10/05/2010 23:41

Thomas Berthold. Abhandlungen des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins in Hamburg, NF 29: 1-256. Hamburg (Parey) 1991. ISBN 3-490-15196-8.

Review source

Originally reviewed by Claus Meier-Brook in 1993.

Published in Journal of Conchology (1993), Vol.34

The author characterizes the species of the freshwater prosobranch family Ampullariidae on a conchological basis (61 pp + 4 photographic plates) and describes the anatomy of 36 species (104 pp.). He distinguishes ten genera, for which he gives the classic shell characters (i.e. without ultrastructure descriptions). The anatomical description of the available species from the six genera Afropomus, Saulea, Lanistes, Pita, Marisa, and Pomacea comprises the external morphology (4 pp.), the topography and histology ofpallial organs (9 pp.), the circulatory and excretory system (101 pp.), the reproductive system (43 pp.), the digestive tract (20 pp.), and the nervous system (14 pp.). In addition, functions, as reproductive activities and locomotion, are included.

Before starting a phylogenetic reconstruction the author expresses his views about the pre-conditions of analytical procedure, and so increases the value of the book by including this exemplary introduction into the theory of phylogenetic systematics sensu Will; Hennig. It is the crucial process of character state weighting that requires a decision, in each case, for the direction of character state transformation. Berthold discusses (10 pp.) the approaches adopted by various schools. The extremes would argue either purely on outgroup comparison (the - European - cladists' view), or would place considerable emphasis on the question of the adaptive value of character states (the form/function or "economy principle" school of Gutmann [W. F. GUTHANN, 1989, Senckenherg-Buch b5: 201 pp Frankfurt]) After a critical analysis of the various procedures used in the literature, Berthold adopts a moderate approach, replacing the economy principle by a fitness principle, "which permits the establishment of correlations between adaptational processes and relative fitness as a means of character evaluation (pp. 3). He eives good reasons for combining outgroup comparison with adaptational processes, because it allows differentiation between cladogenetic and anagenetic aspects in reconstruction of the phylogeny (p. 3). For any taxonomist even a beginner, who has command of the German language, these chapters are profitable reading matter This holds also for his step by step weighting of hypotheses based on increasing sets of characters. The reader is able to follow intermediate arguments through many of the trees, which virtually makes this book a textbook of phylogenetic systematics. This is also true for the part dealing with biogeography. It is more detailed than a publication in a journal usually could afford. It bears, however, the great chance - not only for the author to show but also for the reader to learn - which facts (the historical portion) and factors (the ecological portion) should be considered before hypothetical conclusions based on morphology and distribution can be drawn. The author presents seven scenarios as possible sequences of splitting events. On the present knowledge of Recent and fossil distribution he favours a scenario suggesting an origin of the family in South Africa and the Malagassic region with an offshoot to southern South America (i.e. the first stem species ofAntlipneumata, which is a newly introduced taxon for the group comprising Pila and all South American taxa, the "Spiropeniata"), some 140 Million years ago. This scenario requires only two additional presumptions, among others a slight delay in separation of the Indo- Malaeassic plate from Africa, until after the opening of the South Atlantic.

The book contains extraordinarily few errors: some in lettering (K with different meanings in various figures: Kiel (keel), Kieme (gill), or Kiefer (jaw)); the claim that, among the Bithyniidae, only B. tentaculata possesses a calcified operculum (p 140), or that Marisa comuarietis is a potential host of Schistosoma bovis (p. 231).

An Appendix (4 pp.) deals with the nomenclature of supra-specific taxa. The family name Ampullariidae is used in the title despite the fact that the generic name Ampullaria Lamarck, 1799 is a junior synonym of ft/a Rodmg, 1798 This is defended on the grounds of non-use, by the majority of authors, of the alternative fammily name Pilidae.

The book is recommended also to investigators of other groups, as it forms a conveniently up-to-date review of general anatomy and functional morphology of prosobranch gastropods. The high printing quality and good reproduction standard of photographs is especially appreciated.