FWGNA > Species Accounts > Lymnaeidae > Lymnaea cubensis
Lymnaea (Galba) cubensis (Pfeiffer 1839)
"Fossaria cubensis"
  • click to view larger

> Habitat & Distribution

Baker (1911) considered L. cubensis “typically a tropical species.”  He cited quite a few records from Mexico, South America and the West Indies, but had very spotty data from the US: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas only.  Hubendick (1951) reported essentially the same range as Baker.  More recently it has become clear that L. cubensis ranges through the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of Georgia and the Carolinas.  Populations are typically obsesrved in ditches or vernal ponds, or on the mud at the margins of larger coastal plain rivers.  See my essay of 26May17 for more about the discovery of 9 individual L. cubensis transported into Louisiana by a migrating indigo bunting (Zenzal et al. 2017)  FWGNA incidence rank I-4.

> Ecology & Life History

Populations are typically observed in ditches or vernal ponds, or on the mud at the margins of larger coastal plain rivers.  Adult Lymnaea cubensis are quite amphibious, apparently spending a substantial fraction of their lives grclick for largerazing on mud above the water level.  

Although not well-studied in the USA, L. cubensis is both morphologically and ecologically similar to the temperate American L. humilis or Eurasian L. truncatula, about which more is known (Kendall 1953), especially from a parasitological perspective (Hodasi 1972).  Swedish populations of L. truncatula seem to reproduce primarily by self-fertilization (Trouve' et al. 2003), and a similar mode of reproduction would seem likely for L. cubensis as well.

Lymnaea cubensis is one of many amphibious lymnaeid taxa capable of serving as an intermediate host for trematodes causing fascioliasis in livestock, and rarely humans (Mas-Coma et al. 2005).

> Taxonomy & Systematics

The taxonomy of L. cubensis has become elaborately entangled with that of L. humilis, a similarly small, amphibious species more northern in its distribution.  Baker (1911) was the first to distinguish the two species by the number of cusps on their first marginal tooth, humilis with three and cubensis with two.  It seems likely, however, that the specimens in Thomas Say’s hand when he described humilis in 1822 were not tricuspid, but rather from a bicuspid population collected near Charleston, South Carolina.  For that reason, we recommend that the type locality for L. humilis be restricted to the Susquehanna River at Owego, NY, where populations are entirely tricuspid.  See my essay of 25June08 from the link below.

Quite a few molecular phylogenies have been published in recent years involving L. cubensis, L. humilis, and similar populations worldwide (e.g., Correa et al. 2010, 2011).  See my post to the FWGNA blog of 7Aug12 from the link below for a critical examination of this literature.

Baker’s original (1911) classification of the Lymnaeidae assigned cubensis (together with at least 60 – 80 other specific nomina) to a large, inclusive genus Galba (Schrank 1803), which he later (1928) subdivided and emended to Fossaria (Westerlund 1885).  Burch (1989) followed Baker (1928), gathering humilis together with about a dozen other nominal species and subspecies of small, amphibious lymnaeids into the genus Fossaria, subgenus Bakerilymnaea (Weyrauch).  Meanwhile, European consensus has continued to favor Galba.

Modern molecular data seem to confirm Hubendick’s (1951) impressions that essentially all twelve of these “Bakerilymnaea” taxa are conspecific, however, as indeed are most of the nominal species assigned to “Fossaria” or "Galba" worldwide.  Thus we continue to prefer the two-genus system of Hubendick, with Galba at most a subgenus.  See the essay of 28Dec06 available from the link below for more.

The molecular data seem to suggest that synonyms of L. cubensis may include L. neotropica and L. viatrix further south, and L. bulimoides further west.  Perhaps the best entry into this subject would be my 7Aug12 review of the papers by Correa and colleagues (2010, 2011), available from the link below.  

> Supplementary Resources [PDF]

> Essays

> References

Baker, F. C. (1911) The Lymnaeidae of North and Middle America, Recent and Fossil. Special Publication No. 3., Chicago: Chicago Academy of Natural Sciences.
Baker, F. C. (1928) Freshwater Mollusca of Wisconsin, Part I, Gastropoda. Bull. Wisc. Geol. Natur. Hist. Survey, no. 70. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Burch, J. B. (1989)  North American Freshwater Snails.  Malacological Publications, Hamburg, MI.  365 pp.
Correa, A. C., J. S. Escobar, P. Durand, F. Renaud, P. David, P. Jarne, J-P Pointier, & S. Hurtrez-Bousses (2010)  Bridging gaps in the molecular phylogeny of the Lymnaeidae (Gastropoda: Pulmonata), vectors of Fascioliasis.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 10: 381.
Correa, A. C., J. S. Escobar, O. Noya, L. E. Velasquez, C. Gonzalez-Ramirez, S. Hurtrez-Bousses, and J. P. Pointier (2011)  Morphological and molecular characterization of Neotropic Lymnaeidae (Gastropoda: Lymnaeoidea), vectors of fasciolosis.  Infection, Genetics and Evolution  11: 1978-1988.
Ferrer, J. R., G. Perera, M. Yong, & O. Amador.  1989.  Life tables of Fossaria cubensis and Pseudosuccinea columella, intermediate hosts of Fasciola hepatica in Cuba.  J. Med. Appl. Malacology 1: 189-194.
Hodasi, J. (1972)  The effects of Fasciola hepatica on Lymnaea truncatula. Parasitology, 65: 359-369.  
Hubendick, B. (1951) Recent Lymnaeidae.  Their variation, morphology, taxonomy, nomenclature, and distribution. Kungl. Svenska Vetensk. Akad. Handl., 3, 1-223.  
Kendall, S. (1953)  The life history of Limnaea truncatula under laboratory conditions. J. Helminth, 27: 17-28.  
Levy, M., M. Tunis, & H. Isserhoff. (1973)  Population control in snails by natural inhibitors. Nature, 241: 65-66.  
Mas-Coma, S., M. D. Bargues, & M. A. Valero  2005.  Fascioliasis and other plant-borne trematode zoonoses.  Int. J. Parasit. 35: 1255-1278.  
Samadi, S., Roumegoux, A., Bargues, M.D., Mas-Coma, S., Yong, M., & Pointier, J-P. (2000)  Morphological Studies of Lymnaeid Snails from the Human Fascioliasis Endemic Zone of Bolivia.  J. Molluscan Stud. 66: 31-44.
Trouve', S., L. Degen, F. Renaud & J. Goudet.  2003.  Evolutionary implications of a high selfing rate in the freshwater snail Lymnaea truncatula.  Evolution 57: 2303-2314.
Zenzal, TJ, Jr, EJ Lain, and JM Sellers (2017) An Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) Transporting Snails During Spring Migration.  The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 129: 898 - 902.