, Volume 324, Issue 2, pp 163–177 | Cite as

Aquatic snails of the Bulinus africanus group in Zambia identified according to morphometry and enzymes

  • D. S. Brown
  • D. Rollinson


The Bulinus africanus species group (Planorbidae) of freshwater snails has been reported to be represented in Zambia by two species, B. africanus (Krauss) and B. globosus (Morelet), both named as intermediate hosts for Schistosoma haematobium. Uncertainty in identification of these snails from morphology led to the present investigation, combining morphometry (shell and copulatory organ) with enzyme analysis. Observations of both kinds were made usually on the same individual snails, from collecting sites mostly in the Lusaka area or at Lake Kariba. Particular attention was given to the proportional relationship between the penis sheath and the preputium of the copulatory organ, a character used previously to distinguish B. africanus from B. globosus in south-eastern Africa. The enzyme profile MDH-1, AcP-2, PGD-1 and PGM-2 was common to all snails examined from 25 populations; GPI and HBDH were polymorphic. The enzyme data indicate that the samples represent a single species. Shell characters varied continuously. The copulatory organ was generally of the form known for B. globosus. Although the copulatory organ of a few individuals had proportions overlapping the range reported for B. africanus, the present variation was continuous and was not bimodal. It is concluded that all these specimens are conspecific and may be identified as B. globosus. Previous identifications of B. africanus from Zambia appear to need substantiation and it seems that if this species is present at all in the sampled areas, it must be uncommon. It is relevant in regard to possible strain differences within S. haematobium in Zambia, that our observations indicate that only a single species of intermediate host is involved in transmission.

Key words

Mollusca Bulinus freshwater snails taxonomy distribution Africa Zambia Schistosoma haematobium schistosomiasis 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. S. Brown
    • 1
  • D. Rollinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyThe Natural History MuseumLondonU.K.

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