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Some Reflections, Mainly Biogeographical, On the Land Operculates (Mollusca, Gastropoda Prosobranchia) of the Afrotropical Region

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The land operculates of the Afrotropical Region represent a noticeably small minority among the land snails. As regards distribution, these snails are absent from most of the desert and semidesert areas (South West Africa and areas bordering on the Sahara) with the exception of the Horn of Africa. The less than 70 known species are little diverse, representing 4 families and 9 genera, 1 family and 5 genera of which are endemic (almost all species are endemic). The continental taxa usually have small shells (major diameter not more than 32.0 mm, but generally much smaller), while island dwellers east of the continent reach considerably larger sizes (major diameter up to 55.5 mm). The terrestrial prosobranchs are strikingly diverse on these islands, particularly on Madagascar; some families on the islands are not known to occur on the mainland and are of Asiatic derivation. Conditions of island life may have contributed to factors such as increased diversity and size. Low diversity and small size on the continent may be due to competition with land pulmonates as suggested by CAIN (1978); whatever the reasons, the terrestrial operculates of the African continent in some respects are aberrant from those found elsewhere in the world.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Systematics and Evolutionary Biology, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden; The Netherlands


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