Phenotypic divergence in viviparid snails in a recently converted freshwater lagoon

Osamu Kagawa, Takumi Saito, Shota Uchida, Satoshi Chiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Freshwater mollusks often show high intraspecific variability in shell morphology, which may cause incongruences between molecular phylogeny and morphology-based species taxonomy. However, it remains unclear how morphological variations in freshwater snails are associated with different habitats such as rivers, ponds, and lakes. In the present study, we investigated the morphological variation in the shells of the viviparid freshwater snail Sinotaia quadrata in the Kahoku Lagoon in Japan, which was converted from a brackish to a freshwater lagoon 60 years ago. This newly established freshwater habitat is particularly well-suited for studies on how morphology is associated with environments. We found clear differences in shell morphologies between the S. quadrata populations sampled inside and outside of the lagoon. The S. quadrata sampled in the lagoon had thicker and more elongated shells with wider apertures than those sampled outside of the lagoon. No relationship was found between shell morphology and the distance between sampling sites. This suggests that the divergence in shell morphology occurred over a fairly short time period by rapid adaptation or phenotypic plasticity. Although it is unclear whether these differences are caused by phenotypic plasticity or adaptation, the present findings suggest that the shell morphologies of freshwater snails easily change under the influence of the environment. The high flexibility in shell morphology should be carefully considered when managing or studying freshwater mollusks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalPlankton and Benthos Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Freshwater mollusks
  • Shell morphology
  • Sinotaia quadrata
  • Viviparidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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