Checklist and Habitat Descriptions of Edible Gastropods from Sarawak, Malaysia
M.K. Abu Hena,
Sarawak comprises of vast areas of wetland which is the habitat of huge number
of edible gastropods. Among the wetland faunal composition, the edible gastropod
is one of the important sources of animal protein for the local communities.
This diversity of edible gastropod was studied from seven Divisions of Sarawak
namely Kuching, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang and Lawas. Samples were
collected from the wet market and catches from local fishermen. A total of 21
species representing 11 families and 16 genera of edible gastropods were identified
from Sarawak. Cerithidea spp. was represented by three species while
both Nerita and Pomacea were made up of three and two species
each. Others were each represented by one single species. Six edible gastropod
species belonged to the freshwater habitat while seven and eight species were
recorded from brackish and marine habitats, respectively. Cerithidea
and Pomacea showed wide geography amongst the Division and also highly
distributed. Edible gastropods have high market value in the state of Sarawak
and contribute significantly to the livelihoods of the certain indigenous communities
in the state.
Received: October 04, 2012;
Accepted: October 20, 2012;
Published: January 15, 2013
Gastropods are univalve mollusks that are widely distributed in both freshwater
and marine environments. The monsoonal season at Southeast Asia provide nutrients
enriched environment for these organisms which help to sustain the number of
gastropod in this area (Vermeij, 1978). Rich number of
gastropod provides as an important source of protein for human besides fish.
Many of the Sarawak species are edible and well liked by the local people hence
they are widely sought after and this has led to the dwindling status of these
The state of Sarawak with diverse ecological habitat is hypothetically inhabited
by many aquatic gastropod species. Several studies found that the diversity,
abundance and distribution of gastropod at different habitat influence by physicochemical
parameters, climatic condition and soil. Gastropod diversity is also influenced
by habitat characteristics especially on sediment moisture and organic content
(Armitage and Fong, 2004). Furthermore, rough habitat
like intertidal area, acidic, high temperature and rich sulphide environment
are only suitable for certain gastropod species (Metabos
et al., 2008).
Sarawak has been recognized as one of the important center of biodiversity
hotspot in Southeast Asia. Despite several studies of the Malaysian gastropods
ecology and diversity, it is still inadequate when compared with others region.
There are few studies on gastropod nursery habitat (Cob
et al., 2010), diversity (Schilthuizen et
al., 2003; Supian and Ikhwanuddin, 2002; Abu
Hena et al., 2004) in Malaysian wetland habitats. On the other hand,
the published information on edible gastropod is not well documented in Sarawak.
Hence, the aim of this study was to identify the edible gastropod species, record
the distribution and habitat where they dwelled in the eight Divisions of the
state of Sarawak.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study area: Gastropod samples were collected from native wet market and
fishing villages from seven different Divisions of Sarawak, East Malaysia namely
Kuching, Mukah, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang and Lawas (Table
1, Fig. 1). Samples were collected from August 2010 to
July 2011. Habitat area was recorded according to information survey from the
local fishermen. All collected samples were kept in the icebox and transferred
to the laboratory for taxonomic identification.
Species identification: Gastropod species identification was made according
to Poutiers (1998), Nateewathana
(1995), Mujiano (2009), Perez
et al. (2004), Kohler and Glaubrecht (2001)
and Tan and Clements (2008).
|| Sampling area location showing seven divisions at Sarawak,
|| Sampling sites and total number of gastropod species recorded
in Sarawak region, Malaysia
Important morphological parameters such as shell length and width were measured
using digital vernier caliper at ±0.01 mm. Each of samples was photographed
by digital camera and redrawn to perfection. Conspicuous and distinctive morphological
characteristics were also recorded.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The mollusk existence in Sarawak showed variety of edible gastropods which
has high market demand and popular to the local people as food. These edible
gastropods were found in broad range of habitats such as freshwater, brackish
and marine. This study found that more than half of the edible gastropods inhabits
in the wetlands of Bintulu. Moreover, the recorded species was distributed uneven
within selected divisions. A total of 21 species of gastropod representing 11
families were identified (Fig. 2, Table 2)
from the seven Sarawaks Division.
Among the gastropod species, eight species were from marine, seven species from
brackish and six species from freshwater habitat (Table 3).
The common species was from the family Potamididae such as Cerithidea rizophorarum
and C. obtusa and these two species were found in higher numbers at Kuching,
Sibu, Mukah, Miri, Limbang, and Lawas. The highest species richness of the gastropods
was found in Bintulu (13 species) and this was followed by collection from Kuching
Other gastropod species viz. Brotia costula, Melanoides costellaris,
Pomacea bridgesii, Cerithidea quadrata, Telescopium telescopium,
Clithon retropictus, Melo melo, Ellobium aurisjudae, Nerita
chamaeleon, N. albicilla, Trochus radiatus, Planaxis
sulcatus, Monodonta labio, Turbo crassus and Thais aculeata
were distributed irregularly in different Divisions of the state of Sarawak.
Potamididae was the most dominant species of gastropod found and this in agreement
with the studies done by Aroon et al. (2004)
in the eastern Thailand. Apart from this, these edible gastropods have had high
market demand at Phuket Island, Thailand (Somchai, 1995).
Six species of gastropod belongings to three families (Ampullariidae, Thiaridae
and Pachychilidae) were recorded from freshwater habitat in Kuching, Bintulu,
Miri and Limbang. Previously, the freshwater gastropod species Brotia sp.
was also reported from Malaysian Peninsular as well as from Sumatra, Java and
Borneo (Kohler and Glaubrecht, 2002).
The edible gastropods from coastal and marine habitats were the more dominant
group and firstly been reported from the six coastal waters Divisions of Sarawak.
Studies on edible and non edible gastropods were recorded 384, 44, 22 and 15
species within Southeast Asia (Wong and Arshad, 2011;
Ashton et al., 2003; Matsuura
et al., 2000; Phuket Marine Biological Center,
|| Checklist of gastropod species existing from seven different
divisions in Sarawak
|+: Present, -: Absent
|| Habitat and morphological characteristics of edible gastropod
recorded from the selected division of Sarawak, Malaysia
|| Edible gastropods from Sarawak (a) Cerithidea obtusa,
(b) Cerithidea rizophorarum, (c) Trochus radiatus, (d)
Cerithidea quadrata, (e) Telescopium telescopium, (f) Monodonta
labio, (g) Nerita articulata, (h) Nerita chamaeleon, (I)
Melo melo, (j) Nerita albicilla, (k) Clithon retropictus,
(l) Planaxis sulcatus (m) Brotia costula, (n) Melanoides
costellaris, (o) Thais aculeata (p) Blanocochlis glandiformis,
(q) Tylomelania helmuti (r) Turbo crassus, (s) Pomacea
canaliculata, (t) Ellobium aurisjudae and (u) Pomacea bridgesii
The present study also found that the collected gastropod species have occupied
and registered from the various fresh, brackish and marine aquatic habitats.
This study revealed 21 species of edible gastropod from the wetlands of Sarawak
representing from 11 families and 16 genera. Six edible gastropods inhabit in
freshwater habitat while others were from brackish and marine habitats. Cerithidea
and Pomacea showed wide geography amongst the division and distributed
widely. The present study provides new information on edible gastropods in Sarawak
which could be helpful for future reference for scientists working on wetland
The authors would like to thanks the deanery and staffs from Department of
Animal Science and Fishery, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Universiti
Putra Malaysia Bintulu Sarawak Campus for technical, logistic supports and laboratory
facilities provided. Author would also like to thank the Ministry of Higher
Education, for the research grant (5523703 FRGS), which made this study possible.
1: Abu Hena, M.K., O. Hshamuddin, K. Misri, F. Abdullah and K.K. Loo, 2004. Benthic faunal composition of Penaeus monodon fabricius culture pond in west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. J. Biological Sci., 4: 631-636.
CrossRef | Direct Link |
2: Armitage, A.R. and P. Fong, 2004. Gastropod colonization of a created coastal wetland: Potential influences of habitat suitability and dispersal ability. Restor. Ecol., 12: 391-400.
Direct Link |
3: Aroon, P.S., C. Lohachit and M. Harada, 2004. Survey of brackish water snails in eastern thailand. South East Asian J. Trop. Med. Pub. Health, 35: 150-155.
Direct Link |
4: Ashton, E.C., D.J. Macintosh and P.J. Hogarth, 2003. A baseline study of the diversity and community ecology of crab and molluscan macrofauna in the Sematan mangrove forest, Sarawak, Malaysia. J. Trop. Ecol., 19: 127-142.
5: Cob, Z.C., A. Arshad, J.S. Bujang, W.L.W. Muda and M.A. Ghaffar, 2010. Metamorphosis induction of the dog conch Strombus canarium (Gastropoda: Strombidae) using cues associated with conch nursery habitat. J. Applied Sci., 10: 628-635.
CrossRef | Direct Link |
6: Kohler, F. and M. Glaubrecht, 2001. Toward systematic revision of the southeast asian freshwater gastropod Brotia H. Adam, 1866 (Cerithioidea: Pachychilidae): And account of species from around the south china sea. J. Mollus. Stud., 67: 281-318.
7: Kohler, F. and M. Glaubrecht, 2002. Morphology and reproductive biology and molecular genetics of ovoviviparous freshwater gastropods (Ceritioidea, Pachychilidae) from the Philippines, with Description of a New Genus Jagora. Zool. Scr., 32: 35-59.
8: Matsuura, K., O.K. Sumadhiharga and K. Tsukamoto, 2000. Field Guide to Lombok Island: Identification Guide to Marine Organisms in Seagrass Beds of Lombok Island, Indonesia. University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan Pages: 449
9: Metabos, M., N. Le Bris, S. Pendlebury and E. Thiebaut, 2008. Role of physico-chemical environment on gastropod assemblages at hydrothermal vents on the East Pacific Rise (13°N/EPR). J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK., 88: 995-1008.
10: Mujiano, N., 2009. Mudwhelks (gastropoda: Potamididae) from mangroves of Ujung Kulon National Park, Banten. J. Biol., 13: 51-56.
Direct Link |
11: Nateewathana, A., 1995. Taxanomic accaount of commercial edible molluscs, excluding cephalopodas, of Thailand. Phuket Mar. Biol., 20: 93-116.
12: Perez, K.E., S.A. Clark and C. Lydeard, 2004. A primer to freshwater gastropod identification. Proceedings of the Freshwater Gastropod Identification Workshop, March, 2004, USA., pp: 1-61
13: Phuket Marine Biological Center, 2006. A guide to fauna of seagrass beds in the Andaman sea. Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand, pp: 242.
14: Poutiers, M., 1998. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. In: FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purpose, K.E. and V.H. Niem (Eds.). Vol. 1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, pp: 363-386
15: Schilthuizen, M., H.N. Chai, T.E. Kimsin and J.J. Vermeulen, 2003. Abundance and diversity and land-snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) on limestone hills in Borneo. Raffles Bull. Zool., 51: 35-42.
Direct Link |
16: Somchai, B., 1995. The market value of rare and common molluscs, phuket Island, Thailand. Phuket Mar. Biol. Center, 20: 35-38.
17: Supian, Z. and A.M. Ikhwanuddin, 2002. Population dynamics of freshwater molluscs (Gastropod: Melanoides Tuberculata) in crocker range park, Sabah. ASEAN Rev. Biodivers. Environ. Conserv., 1: 1-9.
18: Tan, S.K. and R. Clements, 2008. Taxonomy and distribution of neritidae (mollusca: Gastropoda) in Singapore. Zool. Stud., 47: 481-494.
Direct Link |
19: Vermeij, G.J., 1978. Biogeography and Adaptation: Patterns of Marine Life. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA., USA., ISBN-13: 978-0674073760, Pages: 352
20: Wong, N.L.W.S. and A. Arshad, 2011. A brief review on marine shelled mollusca (Gastropoda and Bivalvia) record in Malaysia. J. Fish. Aquatic. Sci., 6: 669-669.
CrossRef | Direct Link |