FWGNA > Species Accounts > Hydrobiidae > Marstonia agarhecta
Marstonia agarhecta Thompson 1969

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> Habitat & Distribution

This is another of three nominal species of hydrobiid gastropods endemic (or nearly endemic) to springs and spring-fed tribuarties of the Ocmulgee River in the vicinity of Hawkinsville, GA. Populations of M. agarhecta inhabit clear water with a slight current, predominantly in diatomaceous ooze on top of submerged logs, and less commonly in silt containing large amounts of diatoms (Thompson 1969, Thompson 1977, Watson 2000).  FWGNA incidence rank I-2.

> Ecology & Life History

Hydrobiids seem to be rather nonspecific grazers of small particles (Dillon 2000: 94-97).  They are typically dioecious, the males being characterized by a penis that arises from the neck.  Females attach single eggs in spare, hemispherical capsules to solid substrates (Hershler 1994).  No specific life history data are as yet available for M. agarhecta.

> Taxonomy & Systematics

Like Spilochlamys, Notogillia, and Floridobia, the genus Marstonia belongs to the subfamily Nymphophilinae of the family Hydrobiidae (ss), males being characterized by a lobe-shaped penis (or verge) with surficial glandular patterns (Kabat and Hershler 1993, Hershler et al. 2003, Thompson 2004).  The penis of M. agarhecta has been figured by Thompson (1969).

Click for largerMarstonia is strikingly distinct from Notogillia and Spilochlamys on the basis of shell morphology.  The difference between M. agarhecta from the vicinity of Hawkinsville and M. gaddisorum from Laurens County is not obvious, however.  Nor did the mtDNA study of Hershler et al. (2003) return evidence of substantial genetic divergence between agarhecta and gaddisorum.

Baker (1926) originally proposed Marstonia as a subgenus of Amnicola.  Thompson (1969, 1977) redefined and expanded the taxon, placing several newly-described southeastern species in it.  Hershler and Thompson (1987) synonymized Marstonia under Pyrgulopsis on the basis of similarities in penial morphology.  But after review of female reproductive anatomy, Thompson and Hershler (2002) resurrected Marstonia to generic status and allocated to it all eastern North American species previously placed in Pyrgulopsis.  Female reproductive anatomy, specifically occurrence of a large extension of the albumen gland into the pallial roof, is a distinctly Marstonia characteristic (Hershler 1994, Hershler et al. 2003).  Recent molecular-based phylogenetic analyses has also supported the distinction between Marstonia and Pyrgulopsis (Liu and Hershler 2005).  

> Supplementary Resources [PDF]

> Essays

  • Earlier versions of this website, online until August of 2016, adopted the large, broadly-inclusive concept of the Hydrobiidae (sl) following Kabat & Hershler (1993).  More recently the FWGNA project has shifted to the Wilke et al. (2013) classification system, distinguishing a much smaller Hydrobiidae (ss) and elevating many hydrobioid taxa previously ranked as subfamilies to the full family level.  For more details, see The Classification of the Hydrobioids.

> References

Baker, F.C. (1926) Nomenclatural notes on American fresh water Mollusca. Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters 22:193-205.
Dillon, R. T., Jr. (2000)  The Ecology of Freshwater Molluscs. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.  509 pp. 
Hershler, R. (1994)  A review of the North American freshwater snail genus Pyrgulopsis (Hydrobiidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 1994; 0(554):1-115.   
Hershler, R., H. Liu, and F.G. Thompson (2003)  Phylogenetic relationships of North American nymphophiline gastropods based on mitochondrial DNA sequences.  Zoologica Scripta 32:357-366.  
Hershler, R., and F.G. Thompson (1987)  North American Hydrobiidae (Gastropoda: Rissoacea): redescription and systematic relationships of Tryonia Stimpson, 1865 and Pyrgulopsis Call and Pilsbry, 1886. The Nautilus 101:25-32.    
Kabat, A.R., and R. Hershler (1993) The prosobranch snail family Hydrobiidae (Gastropoda: Rissooidea): review of classification and supraspecific taxa. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 547:1-94.   
Liu, H., and R. Hershler (2005)  Molecular systematics and radiation of western North American nympholine gastropods. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34:284-298.  
Thompson, F.G. (1968)  The Aquatic Snails of the Family Hydrobiidae of Peninsular Florida. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida, USA.   
Thompson, F.G. (1969) Some hydrobiid snails from Georgia and Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 32:241-265.   
Thompson, F.G. (1977) The hydrobiid snail genus Marstonia.  Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 21(3):113-158.  
Thompson, F.G. (2004)  An identification manual for the freshwater snails of Florida.   
Watson, C. N.  (2000)  Results of a survey for selected species of Hydrobiidae (Gastropoda) in Georgia and Florida.  pp. 233 - 244 in Freshwater Mollusk Symposium Proceedings (Tankersley et al, eds)  Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus.   
Thompson, F. G. & R. Hershler (2002)  Two genera of North American freshwater snails: Marstonia Baker, 1926, resurrected to generic status, and Floridobia, new genus (Prosobranchia: Hydrobiidae: Nymphophilinae).  The Veliger 45: 269 - 271.
Wilke T., Haase M., Hershler R., Liu H-P., Misof B., Ponder W. (2013)  Pushing short DNA fragments to the limit: Phylogenetic relationships of “hydrobioid” gastropods (Caenogastropoda: Rissooidea).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 715 – 736.