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Oecologia

, Volume 76, Issue 2, pp 191–199 | Cite as

The effects of traditional gathering on populations of the marine gastropod Strombus luhuanus linne 1758, in southern Papua New Guinea

  • I. R. Poiner
  • C. P. Catterall
Original Papers

Summary

Little is known of the response of mollusc populations to predation by humans, particularly for tropical species. In this paper, we examine the effects of human predation on populations of the gastropod Strombus luhuanus in Bootless Inlet, Papua New Guinea, by documenting both the population biology of the shellfish and the shell-gathering practices of traditional and contemporary human groups. Strombus luhuanus occurs in local colonies and individuals of each sex from different colonies differed significantly in size. Sexual maturity is reached within two years after settlement, at which time the shell length stabilises at about 35–60 mm, and the shell lip thickens. There was also significant between-colony variation in density (8.35–23.39 individuals/m2), and colonies differed in the depth range of their distributions and the frequency of human collection visits. Traditional gatherers rarely collected individuals which were buried or subtidal. Contemporary collectors used different collecting methods, and gathered subtidal populations to a depth of 2.5 m. Both traditional and contemporary collectors gathered only individuals greater than 30 mm shell length, and in the contemporary sample the probability of being gathered increased significantly with shell length. This was due to size-dependent burying, which was greatest among young juveniles and least among adults. The traditional sample contained fewer shells in the largest size category (>45 mm) and more in the smallest (<40 mm), but this difference largely represents the pooling of shells from different collecting locations rather than widespread juvenisation of colonies due to exploitation. Stromb population densities at collected sites in PNG far exceeded those in comparable uncollected sites in northeastern Australia. We conclude that S. luhuanus displays high resilience to all gathering practices used to date, as a consequence of both its size-dependent burying and partly subtidal distribution, which provide refugia from human predation.

Key words

Strombus luhuanus Population biology Human predation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. R. Poiner
    • 1
  • C. P. Catterall
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Fisheries ResearchCSIRO Marine LaboratoriesClevelandAustralia
  2. 2.School of Australian Environmental StudiesGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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