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A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia



N.L.W.S. Wong and A. Arshad
 
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ABSTRACT

Though marine science has received much attention in Malaysia in the recent years, marine mollusc studies are still overseen by many researchers. The lacks of basic information such as diversity data and species check list make it impossible to assess the rate of population lost among marine molluscs. To date, no published information on the actual number of marine shelled molluscan species exist in Malaysian waters. The single largest record and collection come from Purchon collected between 1973 and 1974. A large collection of marine molluscs was made along the coastal line of West Malaysia and Purchon found 301 species (52 families) of marine gastropods and 154 species (37 families) of marine bivalves over a 14 months period. However, little progress has been made since then. At present, only 581 species marine gastropods and bivalves are documented (384 species from class Gastropoda and 197 species from class Bivalvia) in Malaysian waters from various sources. Some data are unpublished and some remained as internal circulation document. The current researches on marine mollusc diversity are incomprehensive and focus only on small geographical area and limited habitat. Besides, central depository facilities such as a natural history museum where researchers could deposit their collections and hold records for the diversity of marine shelled mollusc in Malaysia are still unavailable. These shortcomings and the lack of trained taxonomist have contributed to the weak database of marine molluscs studies.

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  How to cite this article:

N.L.W.S. Wong and A. Arshad, 2011. A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia. Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 6: 669-699.

DOI: 10.3923/jfas.2011.669.699

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=jfas.2011.669.699
 
Received: August 30, 2011; Accepted: November 26, 2011; Published: December 30, 2011



INTRODUCTION

Marine mollusc is a diverse group of invertebrate including Class Gastropoda, Bivalvia, Polyplacophora and Cephalopoda. It can be found in almost any typical marine and freshwater ecosystems. The earliest writings on the natural history of mollusc are the fragmentary writings of Aristotle in the fourth century before the Christian era (Dance, 1986). Although Aristotle’s Natural history of animals was not well organized and not intended to be a descriptive zoology, but his writings on the biology and morphology continued to inspire generations after him until the Curious Age in the 16th century.

In Malaysia, mollusc taxonomy studies started from the study of land snails by the British in pre--independence era. Explorers rushed to the hills, limestone caves and forest to record their findings and some of their early works were published in The Bulletin of the Raffles Museum (now The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology) between 1930’s to 1960’s (Robson, 1932; Laidlaw, 1932, 1937, 1940; Van Jutting, 1949, 1950, 1952; Purchon and Enoch, 1954; Tweedie, 1961; Pathansali, 1963; Berry, 1965).

One of the first marine mollusc diversity surveys in Malaysia was conducted on the east and west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (Purchon and Purchon, 1981; Way and Purchon, 1981; Morris and Purchon, 1981). Purchon conducted a 14-month field trip collecting specimens from 40 stations around Peninsular Malaysia. The collection gathered by him from various sources were sent to Britain and identified by the curators of British Natural History Museum, London. Specimens of 301 species from class Gastropoda and 154 species from class Bivalvia were deposited at the British Natural History Museum as museum type collection.

Current status: The marine mollusc diversity study in Malaysia is normally carried out as a side product of other projects due to the lack of direct funding. Researchers’ record was mostly derived from what they seen and collected during other parallel field survey. Table 1 shows a significant difference in specimens found between an intensive diversity study (Purchon and Purchon, 1981) and other diversity studies in Malaysia (Arshad et al., 2001; Kee Alfian et al., 2005; Tan et al., 2008; Wong et al., 2008; Zaidi et al., 2008). Most of the recent studies were done in shorter period and focus on specific area and ecosystem which are less intensive and extensive as compared to Purchon and Purchon, 1981. Besides in situ visual identification, some specimens were brough back to the laboratory for taxonomic confirmation. Unlike Purchon and Purchon, 1981, lack of proper documentation made it impossible for specimen re-examination and confirmation on its identification. In addition, there are still various marine ecosystems such as mangrove and mudflat that were not intensively surveyed.

Through our recent efforts on the collection of scientific writings and compilation of marine shelled mollusca in Malaysia, a total of 581 species is listed (384 species from class Gastropoda and 206 species from class Bivalvia). The validity of each species was check with World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), SeaLifeBase Portal and The Taiwan Malacofauna Database. The complete species list is displayed in Table 2. However, due to the lack of proper specimen storage and documentation, some of the specimens are no available for reexamination.

Table 1: Comparison of data between Purchon and Purchon, 1981 and other diversity studies conducted by local scientist recently
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
*Unpublished data collected by author

Table 2: List of marine shelled mollusc species in Malaysia.
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Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
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Image for - A Brief Review on Marine Shelled Mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) Record in Malaysia
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Remarks: Validity of names is based on database of World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), SeaLifeBase Portal and The Taiwan Malacofauna Database. Species names that are listed as Malaysian records but not listed in the databases are marked as asterisk. Source of references for Table 2

Most of the collection was done by Purchon and Purchon (1981) and the specimens are currently stored in British Natural History Museum.

The number of species from these available documents seems far too small than the total number of described marine shelled mollusc. Based on essentially non-overlapping regional checklist by Bouchet (2006), 52,525 species of marine molluscs were documented while WoRMS has recorded 28,055 valid marine mollusc species so far and the list is still growing. In 2004, the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project- PANGLAO 2004, that involved 70 participants from 16 countries has put the small Panglao Island of Philippines on the world map by discovering about 5,000-6,000 species of marine molluscs in this 40-day expedition (Bouchet et al., 2009). Located in the same high biodiversity region, Malaysia should be able to contribute valuable data or even possible discovery of new species. In recent years, foreign scientists have been collecting and documenting the marine mollusc found in Malaysian waters (Tan and Sigurdsson, 1990, 1996; Lam and Morton, 2009). Tan and Sigurdsson (1996) even described a new species base on the specimen from Penang and named it Thais pinangensis (Muricidae). The development of marine shelled mollusc taxonomy in Malaysia is still measured eventhough this country is blessed with rich and high biodiversity resources.

Addressing the problem: What is the urgency in diversity study? In order for Malaysia to address the biodiversity issues, there is an urgent need for a depository centre with sufficient space and facilities and curators. Good storage facilities and reliable database network facility should also be established. Besides specimen deposit facility, there is an urgent need of well-trained taxonomists in Malaysia. The study of taxonomy in Malaysia only started in the 1970’s with the establishment of local universities. However, marine mollusc taxonomy has never become the centre of interest in any of the present university. With the advancement in biotechnology and molecular-level studies in recent years, many scientists realised that marine organisms could provide great resources for these studies. But the lack of database information on species diversity could be a drawback for these studies since we do not even fully know the extent of species in our aquatic ecosytem. The lack of funding in supporting taxonomy study is another factor that limits the proliferation of marine-shelled mollusca diversity study. From sample collection to specimen storage, sufficient long-term grant support is needed.

DISCUSSION

With a total of 4,675 km of coastline (Peninsular Malaysia 2,068km, East Malaysia 2,607 km), there are still much undocumented habitat in our seas. Marine-shelled mollusc is a massive group that definitely needs more than a handful of scientist to work on it. With the lack of exposure, it would be hard to attract young enthusiast to gain interest in mollusc taxonomic study. Currently in Malaysia, there is no facility for such exposure. Museums in Malaysia focus more on cultural collection but lack of biodiversity and natural history collection.

One will never know what he lost if he never know what he had. There are 42 islands in Malaysia which are declared as Marine Parks, but without the biodiversity data, one will never know whether the marine protected areas are well maintained and protected. With the rate that animal species are becoming extinct increasing every day, the need of cataloging marine shelled mollusc is urgent.

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