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J S Afr Vet Assoc. 2003 Dec;74(4):117-22.

Distribution and habitats of the snail Lymnaea truncatula, intermediate host of the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica, in South Africa.

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School of Environmental Sciences and Development, Zoology, Potchefstroom University for CHE, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa.


This paper focuses on the geographical distribution and habitats of Lymnaea truncatula, the intermediate, snail host of the liver fluke, Fasciola hepatica, as reflected by the 723 samples in the database of the National Freshwater Snail Collection, Potchefstroom, South Africa. The 221 different loci (1/16-degree squares) on record reflect an extensive but discontinuous distribution, except in Lesotho and in parts of the Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West provinces of South Africa. Although recorded from 12 different types of waterbody, it was mostly (42.0%) recovered from swamps. Most samples (45.8%) were collected in habitats with slow-flowing water. A muddy substratum was recorded for 62.5% of the samples. Most samples (86.3%) were collected in habitats with a mean annual air temperature of 10-20 degrees C, and more than 69% came from localities with a mean annual rainfall of 600-900 mm. An integrated decision tree constructed from the data indicated that temperature and types of waterbody play a decisive role in determining the presence of L. truncatula in a given area. A temperature index calculated for all mollusc species ranked L. truncatula second in a total of 53 species according to its association with low temperatures. It remains to be established whether its distribution is indeed discontinuous, and whether its preference for a particular habitat, amphibious habits and ability to aestivate could have resulted in some populations having been overlooked during surveys.

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