, 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


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 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen J (1977) Fishing for wallabies: trade as a mechanism for social interaction, integration and elaboration on the Central Papuan coast. In: Friedman J, Rowlands MJ (eds) The evolution of social systems. Duckworth Publications, London, pp 419–456Google Scholar
  2. Anderson AJ (1979) Prehistoric exploitation of marine resources at Black Rocks Point, Palliser Bay. In: Leech BF, Leech HM (eds) Prehistoric man in Palliser Bay. Bull Nat Mus N Z 21:49–65Google Scholar
  3. Beaton JM (1985) Evidence for a coastal occupation time-lag at Princess Charlotte Bay (North Queensland) and implications for coastal colonization and population growth theories for Aboriginal Australia. Archeol Oceania 20:1–20Google Scholar
  4. Berg CJ (1976) Growth of the queen conch Strombus gigas, with a discussion of the practicality of its mariculture. Mar Biol 34:191–199Google Scholar
  5. Brownell WN (1977) Reproduction, laboratory culture and growth of Strombus gigas, S. costatus and S. pugilis in Los Roques, Venezuela. Bull Mar Sci 27:668–680Google Scholar
  6. Brownell WN, Stevely JM (1981) The biology, fisheries and management of the queen conch, Strombus gigas,. Mar Fish Rev 43:1–12Google Scholar
  7. Brouns JWM, Heijs ML (1985) Tropical seagrass ecosystems in Papua New Guinea. A general account of the environment, marine flora and fauna. Proc K Ned Akad Wet Ser C 88:145–182Google Scholar
  8. Carleton C (1984) Marketing studies on the miscellaneous marine resources of the South Pacific. Infofish Marketing Digest 5:28–31Google Scholar
  9. Catterall CP, Poiner IR (1983a) Age- and sex-dependent patterns of aggregation in the tropical gastropod Strombus luhuanus. Mar Biol 77:171–182Google Scholar
  10. Catterall CP, Poiner IR (1983b) The spatial dispersion pattern of a strombid gastropod and its ecological basis. In: Liddle MJ, Tothill JC (eds) The ecological basis of interactions between organisms. AES Monogr Ser 1:13–25Google Scholar
  11. Catterall CP, Poiner IR (1987) The potential impact of human gathering on shellfish populations, with reference to some NE Australian intertidal flats. Oikos 50:114–122Google Scholar
  12. Christensen CC, Kirch PV (1986) Nonmarine molluses and ecological change at Barbers Point, O'ahu, Hawai'i. Bishop Mus Occ Pap 26:52–80Google Scholar
  13. Diamond JM, Veitch CR (1981) Extinctions and introductions in the New Zealand avifauna: cause and effect? Science 211:499–501Google Scholar
  14. Hinton A (1982) Conservation in perspective. Keppel Bay Tidings, Oct/Nov (1982)Google Scholar
  15. Hinton A (no date on book) Seashells of Papua New Guinea. Robert Brown and Associates, Port Moresby, Papua New GuineaGoogle Scholar
  16. Johannes RE (1978) Traditional marine conservation methods in Oceania and their demise. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 9:349–364Google Scholar
  17. Johannes RE (1982) Woods of the lagoon: fishing and marine lore in the Palau District of Micronesia. University of California Press, Berkeley, Calif., 231pGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnstone IM (1979) Papua New Guinea seagrasses and aspects of the biology and growth of Enhalus acoroides (L.S.) Royle. Aquat Bot 7:197–208Google Scholar
  19. Kirch PV (1982) The impact of prehistoric Polynesians on the Hawaiian ecosystem. Pac Sci 36:1–14Google Scholar
  20. Kirch PV (1987) Lapita and Oceanic cultural origins: excavations in the Mussau Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, 1985. J Field Archaeol 14:163–80Google Scholar
  21. Kuwamura T, Fukao R, Nishida M, Wada K, Yanagisawa Y (1983) Reproductive biology of the gastropod Strombus luhuanus (Strombidae). Publ Seto Mar Lab 38:433–443Google Scholar
  22. Lasker R (1981) The role of a stable ocean in larval fish survival and subsequent recruitment. In: Lasker R (ed) Marine fish larvae. Washington Sea Grant Program, University of Washington Press, Seattle, Wash., pp 80–85Google Scholar
  23. May RM (1984) Introduction. In: May RM (ed) Exploitation of Marine Communities. Dahlem Konferenzen 1984. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  24. Mechan B (1982) Shell bed to Shell midden. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Globe Press, Melbourne, 189 ppGoogle Scholar
  25. Olsen SL, James HF (1982) Fossil birds from the Hawaiian Islands: evidence for wholesale extinction by man before Wester contact. Science 217:633–635Google Scholar
  26. Poiner IR, Harris A (in press) Yorke Island. In: Johannes RE (ed) The Torres Strait. Australian Government Publishing Service, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  27. Poraituk S, Ulijaszek S (1981) Molluscs in the subsistence diet of some Purari Delta people. Purari River Hydroelectric Scheme Environmental Studies, vol 20. Office of Environment and Conservation and Department of Minerals and Energy, Papua New GuineGoogle Scholar
  28. Sale PF (1982) The structure and dynamics of coral reef fish communities. In: Pauly D, Murphy GI (eds) Theory and management of tropical fisheries. Proc 9th ICLARM Conference ICLARM, Manila Philippines and CSIRO, Cronulla, Australia, p 241–253Google Scholar
  29. Shenoy AS (1984) Non-edible marine products—a growing cottage industry in India. Infofish Marketing Digest 5:35–36Google Scholar
  30. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1981) Biometry. Freeman and Co, San Francisco, Calif., 859pGoogle Scholar
  31. Swadling P (1976) Changes induced by human exploitation in prehistoric shellfish populations. Mankind Q 10:156–162Google Scholar
  32. Swadling P (1977a) Central province shellfish resources and their utilization in the prehistoric past of PNG. Veliger 19:293–302Google Scholar
  33. Swadling P (1977b) The implications of shellfish exploitation for New Zealand prehistory. Mankind Q 11:11–18Google Scholar
  34. Wells SM (1981) International trade in ornamental corals and shells. Proc 4th Int Coral Reef Symp Manila, 1981, Vol 1, p 323–330Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations