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Not in the Least Concern: anthropogenic influences on a South-east Asian apple snail Pila scutata (Ampullariidae)

  • Ting Hui Ng (a1), Siong Kiat Tan (a2), Amirrudin Ahmad (a3), Do Van Tu (a4), Ravindra C. Joshi (a5), Wendy Y. Wang (a2), Heok Hui Tan (a2) and Darren C.J. Yeo (a1)...


South-east Asian apple snails, Pila spp., have been declining since the introduction of globally invasive, confamilial South American Pomacea spp., yet Pila ecology remains poorly studied, with most occurrence records unconfirmed. Pila scutata, a previously widespread species, presumed native to the Malay peninsula and assessed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, was formerly harvested for food, and may have experienced anthropogenic translocations. We surveyed the Malay peninsula (specifically Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore) to investigate the current distribution and genetic diversity of P. scutata. Six populations were found in Singapore, but only one in Peninsular Malaysia. Mitochondrial COI and 16S sequencing revealed that the Malaysian population shared a single haplotype of both genes with the Singapore populations (500 km distant). This low genetic diversity could stem from a recent anthropogenic introduction, which brings into question the true native range of P. scutata and, coupled with poorly resolved taxonomy of the genus, necessitates a reassessment of its IUCN Red List status. Introduced populations pose a dilemma, and the lack of genetic diversity is of concern in light of Pila decline throughout South-east Asia. Our results highlight that conservation management of P. scutata and its congeners must therefore be better informed by greater taxonomic resolution and more comprehensive investigations of their ecology, both in native and introduced ranges.

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Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail


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Present address: Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand

Also at: University of South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Supplementary material for this article is available at



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