NEMESIS Bioregion Distribution:


Native  Introduced  Cryptogenic  Failed


First Non-native North American Marine/Estuarine Record: 1966
First Non-native West Coast Marine/Estuarine Record: 1988
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Marine/Estuarine Record: 1966



General Invasion History:

Melanoides tuberculata has a broad reported native range in subtropical-tropical regions of the Old World, from Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and Australia. Museum collections include specimens from many Pacific islands, including Fiji, Vanuatu, and Moorea (Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia 2013; Museum of Comparative Zoology 2013), where prehistoric or undocumented introductions are possible. Melanoides tuberculata has been introduced to inland and estuarine waters around the world, mostly in warm-temperate to tropical regions, but some populations have become established, at least temporarily, in warm springs and thermal effluents in cooler regions. In North America, this snail has been found in fresh waters in at least 11 continental US states. It was introduced to springs and streams in inland central Texas before 1964, and is now found in 34 water bodies in 15 counties (Karatayev et al. 2009). Inland populations have been found in California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, often in thermal springs (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2013). It is predominantly a freshwater snail, but can tolerate salinities as high as 34 PSU. It has been collected at marine salinities in Biscayne Bay, Florida (Roessler et al. 1977; Wingard et al. 2007); Oahu, Hawaii (Englund et al. 2000); and the Ceará River estuary, Brazil (in 2005, Barroso and Matthews-Cascon 2009). In Florida and Brazil, this snail reached high population densities in mangrove swamps (Roessler et al. 1977; Wingard et al. 2007; Barroso and Matthews-Cascon 2009).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

Melanoides tuberculata was first reported in California in 1972, from a ditch in Riverside County, California. In 1988, it was collected in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It has been found at several sites in the inner Delta, in fresh to oligohaline water, at abundances of up to 754 snails m-3 (Cohen and Carlton 1995; Peterson and Vayssieres 2010; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2013). Another California population is established in Los Angeles, where the San Gabriel River becomes estuarine (in 2011, USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2013).

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Melanoides tuberculata was first collected on the East Coast of Florida (FL) in Lake Osceola on the University of Miami campus in 1966 (Clench 1970), and by 1973 it was found in brackish water in the Pompano Canal, Fort Lauderdale (Russo 1974, cited by Roessler 1977). By 1975, this snail was abundant in mangrove areas of the Matheson Hammock-Snapper Creek area of Coral Gables, FL adjacent to Biscayne Bay. Melanoides tuberculata reached abundances of up to 23,000 m-3 (Roessler et al. 1977). In surveys between 2004 and 2007, the snail was abundant along the shore of Biscayne Bay and adjacent canals, and at one location reached 60,000 animals m-3, higher density than any native snail (Wingard et al. 2007). The Red-Rim Melania reached the upper St. Johns River, FL by 1975 (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2003; Florida Museum of Natural History 2013; Lee 2013). It was present in the Indian River Lagoon drainage, in the St. Lucie River and Sebastian Creek drainages (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Collections).

Invasion History on the Gulf Coast:

Melanoides tuberculata was first found on the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1969 in the Hillsborough River in Hillsborough State Park (Clench 1970). This snail is now abundant in the tidal tributaries of Tampa Bay (Baker et al. 2004). In 1975, it was found to be abudant in several brackish (2.5-3.0 PSU) canals flowing into Lake Pontchartrain, in New Orleans, Louisiana (Dundee and Paine 1977).

Invasion History in Hawaii:

Melanoides tuberculata was reported from the Hawaiian Islands at least as early as 1915 (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2013), but it may have been a prehistoric introduction to the islands. It is now found in fresh waters on all the main islands, and in streams on Oahu, where it occurs at salinities of 0-34 PSU (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2013).

Invasion History elsewhere in the World:

Melanoides tuberculata has been widely introduced in tropical America and the Caribbean, both as an aquarium release and as biocontrol for native snails hosting disease-causing trematodes. It was introduced to Puerto Rico soon after 1963 (Abbott 1973), to Martinique in 1985 (Pointier et al. 2005), Dominica by 1975 (Reeves et al. 2008), Guadeloupe in 1979 (Pointier et al. 1993b), the US Virgin Islands in 1987 (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2013). It was present and used to make ornaments in Veracruz, Mexico (Abbott 1973) and is now established in at least 12 Mexican states (Conteras-Arquieta 1998). Melanoides tuberculatus was collected in Panama by 1971, and in 1972, was collected from the bottom of the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal (USNM 734154, U.S. National Museum of Natural History 2013).

In South America, M. tuberculata was first reported from Venezuela in 1972 (Pointier et al. 1999), from Brazil in 1967 in Sao Paulo (Vaz et al. 1986, cited by Barroso and Matthews-Cascon 2009), and Argentina in 1999 (Peso et al. 2011). This snail is known from 19 of 26 Brazilian states (da Silva and Barros 2011). In Ceara State, in northeastern Brazil, M. tuberculatus was abundant in mangroves along the Ceara River, at salinities of 0-30 PSU (Barroso et al. 2009). Introductions are still occurring in the Eastern Hemisphere around the edges of its native range, including Spain (Oscoz et al. 2009), Malta (Cilia et al. 2013) and New Zealand (Duggan 2002).