Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 10, Issue 11, pp 1809–1829

Land-snail faunas in indigenous rainforest and commercial forestry plantations in Kakamega Forest, western Kenya


  • Peter Tattersfield
    • Department of Biodiversity & Systematic BiologyNational Museum of Wales
  • Mary B. Seddon
    • Department of Biodiversity & Systematic BiologyNational Museum of Wales
  • Charles N. Lange
    • National Museums of Kenya

DOI: 10.1023/A:1013167726704

Cite this article as:
Tattersfield, P., Seddon, M.B. & Lange, C.N. Biodiversity and Conservation (2001) 10: 1809. doi:10.1023/A:1013167726704


We examine the diversity and structure of land-snail faunas in indigenous rainforest communities and three types of forestry plantation in Kakamega Forest, western Kenya. Using plot-based, standardized sampling consisting of fixed-time direct searching and fixed-volume litter sieving we estimated molluscan diversity and abundance in monoculture plantation plots of the exotic, non-African tree species Bischofia javanica and Pinus spp., and the central African tree Maesopsis eminii which is an indigenous component of the Kakamega rainforest. Overall, 41, 39, 41 and 34 mollusc species were recorded in indigenous forest, Maesopsis, Bischofia and Pinus plantations respectively. The mean number of species and mean number of specimens per plot were 15–49% and 6–54% lower respectively in the plantations relative to indigenous forest. Abundance and species number were suppressed the most in the Pinus stands, and the least in the plantations of indigenous Maesopsis. Species per plot, Shannon index and abundance were lowest in the Pinus plantation and highest in the indigenous forest. Snails were more abundant in Maesopsis than in Bischofia, but mean species per plot and total species number did not differ significantly between these plantation types. Shannon evenness indices showed that the indigenous forest faunas were more uniform in terms of species abundance, whereas the three plantation types were dominated by a small number of species. Several species were confined to the indigenous rain forest. Although most species were present in both indigenous forest and plantations, many species were significantly more abundant in the rainforest communities. The potential use of groups of these species as indicators of forest conditions is discussed. Overall, the Maesopsis and Bischofia plantations support a substantial proportion of the indigenous rainforest's mollusc fauna. This maybe partly because of the relatively close proximity of indigenous stands to plantations, which can facilitate recolonisation. However, the finding illustrates that plantations hold the potential, at least in some circumstances, to provide alternative habitats for forest molluscs where indigenous rainforest has been cleared.

biodiversity forestry plantations Kenya land-snails rainforest

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001