Feeding habitat of the understory arboreal snail Tikoconus costarricanus (Stylommatophora: Euconulidae) in a tropical montane wet forest, Costa Rica


Land snails

How to Cite

Barrientos, Z. (2021). Feeding habitat of the understory arboreal snail Tikoconus costarricanus (Stylommatophora: Euconulidae) in a tropical montane wet forest, Costa Rica . UNED Research Journal, 13(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.22458/urj.v13i1.3311


Introduction: The feeding habitats of land snails are essential for their survival. Some are little known, for example the upper surface of leaves, habitat of tropical arboreal and shrub snails. Objective: To analyze the feeding behavior and preferences in the feeding habitat of the tropical snail Tikoconus costarricanus. Methods: In a humid montane tropical forest in Cartago, Costa Rica, I recorded every 3 to 4 hours the feeding activity and general behavior of individually marked snails on a 2km trail (seven 24-hour visits in May 2010-March 2011). Results: I observed a total of 167 individual specimens and made 781 observations about their behavior and the leaves on which they were found. These snails preferred monocotyledonous leaves with many epiphylls, despite the fact that those leaves were not common in this forest. They avoided ferns, and during the less rainy season, they preferred leaves with many trichomes, although there were few such leaves. On average, they spent 11 hours on each individual leaf and visited two leaves per day. The few snails seen on stems were almost always moving, as opposed to those on the leaf underside. On average they moved a net 65 cm each day. Feeding concentrated around 9:00 am and defecation around 4:20 am. Conclusions: These snails prefer leaves with many epiphylls, where they find good camouflage, moisture and food. The preference for trichomes could be due to mechanical reasons. The lack of seasonality in their behavior may reflect their stable food source in a forest that remains humid year round. 


Andrews, K., Valverde, V.H., & Ramírez, O. (1985). Preferencia alimenticia de la babosa, Sarasinula plebeia (Fisher). Ceiba, 26(1), 59-65.

Aparecido, L. M. T., Teodoro, G. S., Mosquera, G., Brum, M., Barros, F. D. V., Pompeu, P. V., ... & Asbjornsen, H. (2018). Ecohydrological drivers of Neotropical vegetation in montane ecosystems. Ecohydrology, 11(3), 1-17. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1932

Barrientos, Z. (2012). Dynamics of leaf litter humidity, depth and quantity: two restoration strategies failed to mimic ground microhabitat conditions of a low montane and premontane forest in Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 60(3), 1041-1053.

Barrientos, Z. (2019). Demography of the land snail Tikoconus (Tikoconus) costaricanus (Stylommatophora: Euconulidae) in tropical low montane and premontane forests, Costa Rica. Revista Biología Tropical, 67(6), 1449-1460. DOI: 10.15517/RBT.V67I6.36201

Barrientos, Z. (2020a). A new aestivation strategy for land molluscs: hanging upside down like bats. UNED Research Journal, 12(1), e2802. DOI: 10.22458/urj.v12i1.2802

Barrientos, Z. (2020b). Microhabitat selection, and season and daily activity of the land snail Tikoconus costarricanus (Stylommatophora, Euconulidae) in tropical montane wet forest understory. Revista Biología Tropical, 68(4), 1131-1142.

Baur A., & Baur, B. (1988). Individual movement patterns of the minute land snail Punctum pygmaeum (Draparnaud) (Pulmonata: Endodontidae). Veliger, 30(4), 372–376. Retrieved from https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/42468278#page/393/mode/1up

Baur, A., Baur, B., & Fröberg, L. (1994). Herbivory on calcicolous lichens: different food preferences and growth rates in two co-existing land snails. Oecologia, 98(3-4), 313-319.

Bickford, C. P. (2016). Ecophysiology of leaf trichomes. Functional Plant Biology, 43(9), 807-814. DOI: 10.1071/FP16095

Bidart, L., & Espinosa, J. (1989). Aspectos del nicho ecológico de Polymita picta nigrolimbata, Caracolus sagemon rostrata y Coryda alauda strobilus. Ciencias biológicas, (21-22), 130-135.

Bidart, L., Osorio, M., Reynaldo, E., Fernández, J., & Iglesias, C. (1992). Nicho ecológico de Polymita muscarum, Liguus fasciatus achatinus y Hemitrochus lucipeta. Ciencias Biológicas, 25, 9-19.

Carbonell-Lebren, Y., Reyes, B., Fernández-Abreu, I., Velázquez, Y., & Iglesias-Matos, L. (2012). Plantas usadas como sustrato por Polymita picta, Caracolus sagemon y Coryda alauda en el bosque secundarios y matorral xeromorfo costero del elemento natural destacado Yara-Majayara, Baracoa, Guantánamo, Cuba. Hombre, Ciencia y Tecnología, 16(3), 65-75. Retrieved from http://www.ciencia.gtmo.inf.cu/index.php/http/article/view/327

Chatfield, J.E. (1976). Studies on food and feeding in some European land molluscs. Journal of Conchology, 29: 5-20.

Coley, P. D., & Kursar, T. A. (1996). Causes and consequences of epiphyll colonization. In: S.S. Mulkey, R.L. Chazdon, A.P. Smith (eds). Tropical Forest Plant Ecophysiology. (pp. 337-362) Boston, MA, USA: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4613-1163-8_12

Coley, P.D., Kursar, T.A., & Machado. J.L. (1993). Colonization of tropical rain forest leaves by epiphylls: effects of site and host plant leaf time. Ecology, 74(2), 619-623. Retrieved from http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/jmachad1/publications/Coley_et_al_94.pdf, DOI: 10.2307/1939322

Cook, A. (2001). Behavioural Ecology: On Doing the Right Thing, in the Right Place at the Right Time. In: Barker, G.M. (ed). The biology of terrestrial mollusks (pp. 447-488.). New York, USA: CABI publishing.

Craig, A. K. (1972). Observations on the arboreal snail Orthalicus floridensis. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences, 35(1), 15-20.

Dean, J. M., & Smith, A. P. (1978). Behavioral and morphological adaptations of a tropical plant to high rainfall. Biotropica, 10(2), 152-154. DOI: 10.2307/2388018

Dimitriadis, V. K. (2001). Structure and Function of the Digestive System in Stylommatophora. In: G.M. Barker (ed). The biology of terrestrial mollusks (pp. 237-257). New York, USA: CABI publishing.

Dourson, D. C. (2008). The feeding behavior and diet of an endemic West Virginia land snail, Triodopsis platysayoides. American Malacological Bulletin, 26(1/2), 153-159. DOI: 10.4003/006.026.0215

Fernández, A., Peña, C., Reyes, E., & Monteagudo, S. (2001). Relación planta–molusco y estado de conservación de colonias de Polymita muscarum Lea 1834, en zona costera de Holguín, Cuba. Revista Ciencias Holguín, 7(2), 1-11. Retrieved from http://www.ciencias.holguin.cu/index.php/cienciasholguin/article/view/157

Gonzáles, W. L., Negritto, M. A., Suarez, L. H., & Gianoli, E. (2008). Induction of glandular and non-glandular trichomes by damage in leaves of Madia sativa under contrasting water regimes. Acta oecologica, 33(1), 128-132

Gorb, S. N. (2008). Biological attachment devices: exploring nature's diversity for biomimetics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 366(1870), 1557-1574.

Hatziioannou, M., Eleutheriadis, N., & Lazaridou-Dimitriadou, M. (1994). Food preferences and dietary overlap by terrestrial snails in Logos area (Edessa, Macedonia, Northern Greece). Journal of Molluscan Studies, 60(3), 331-341. DOI: 10.1093/mollus/60.3.331

Hernández, M. (2013). Occupancy of strata of plant height and plant substrate by land snail (Gastropoda) assemblages at Escaleras de Jaruco, Mayabeque, Cuba. The Nautilus, 127(1), 29-35.

Iglesias, J., & Castillejo, J. (1999). Field observations on feeding of the land snail Helix aspersa Muller. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 65(4), 411-423.

Kariyat, R. R., Smith, J. D., Stephenson, A. G., De Moraes, C. M., & Mescher, M. C. (2017). Non-glandular trichomes of Solanum carolinense deter feeding by Manduca sexta caterpillars and cause damage to the gut peritrophic matrix. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284(1849), 20162323. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2323

Levin, D. A. (1973). The role of trichomes in plant defense. The quarterly review of biology, 48(1, Part 1), 3-15.

Lücking, R., & Bernecker-Lücking, A. (2000). Lichen feeders and lichenicolous fungi: do they affect dispersal and diversity in tropical foliicolous lichen communities. Ecotropica, 6(1), 23-41.

Mason, C. F. (1970). Food, feeding rates and assimilation in woodland snails. Oecologia, 4(4), 358-373.

Meyer, W. M., Gary, D. T., Yeung, N. W., Dirks, C., Leung, K., Léon, J. A., ... & Hayes, K. A. (2014). Native arboreal land snails in the Mt Kaala Natural Area Reserve, Oahu, Hawaii, have similar plant preferences: implications for conservation. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 80(4), 469-472. DOI: 10.1093/mollus/eyu065

Monge-Nájera, J. (1989). The relationship of epiphyllous liverworts with leaf characteristics and light in Monte Verde, Costa Rica. Cryptogamie, Bryologie, 10(4), 345-352

Monge-Nájera, J., & Blanco, M. A. (1995). The influence of leaf characteristics on epiphyllic cover: a test of hypotheses with artificial leaves. Tropical Bryology, 11, 5-9. DOI: 10.11646/bde.11.1.3

Nonomura, T., Xu, L., Wada, M., Kawamura, S., Miyajima, T., Nishitomi, A., ... & Toyoda, H. (2009). Trichome exudates of pennellii form a chemical barrier to suppress leaf-surface germination of Oidium neolycopersici conidia. Plant Science, 176(1), 31-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2008.09.002

Ohta, T., & Saeki, I. (2020). Comparisons of calcium sources between arboreal and ground‐dwelling land snails: implication from strontium isotope analyses. Journal of Zoology, 311(2), 137-144. DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12767

Peters, H. A., Baur, B., Bazzaz, F., & Körner, C. (2000). Consumption rates and food preferences of slugs in a calcareous grassland under current and future CO2 conditions. Oecologia, 125(1), 72-81. DOI: 10.1007/PL00008893

Podroužková, Š., Janovský, Z., Horáčková, J., & Juřičková, L. (2015). Do snails eat exotic plant species invading river floodplains? Journal of Molluscan Studies, 81(1), 139-146. DOI: 10.1093/mollus/eyu073

Popov, V. N., & Kramarenko, S. S. (2004). Dispersal of land snails of the genus Xeropicta Monterosato, 1892 (Gastropoda; Pulmonata; Hygromiidae). Russian Journal of Ecology, 35(4), 263-266. DOI: 10.1023/B:RUSE.0000033797.51636.83

Puslednik, L. (2002). Dietary preferences of two species of Meridolum (Camaenidae: Eupulmonata: Mollusca) in southeastern Australia. Molluscan Research, 22(1), 17-22.

Reyes-Tur, B., Flores-Ricardo, L. A., & Fernández-Velázquez, A. (2018). Actividad diaria de Polymita muscarum (Gastropoda: Cepolidae) en un agroecosistema: relación con factores climáticos y duración del apareamiento/Daily activity of Polymita muscarum (Gastropoda: Cepolidae) in an agroecosystem: relationship with climatic factors and mating duration. Revista Cubana de Ciencias Biológicas, 6(1), 9.

Reyes-Tur, B., & González-Rodríguez, A. (2003). Relación planta-animal del molusco terrestre Cubano Polymita venusta (Gmelin, 1792), (Stylommatophora: Helminthoglyptidae) en sardinero, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Biología, 17(2), 134-142.

Reyes-Tur, B., González-Guillén, A., Rosabal, D., & Capote-Danet, A. (2020): Associations between tree snails and corticolous lichens in a secondary forest in eastern Cuba. Poeyana, 510, 18-26.

Saeki, I., Niwa, S., Osada, N., Hyodo, F., Ohta, T., Oishi, Y., & Hiura, T. (2017). Adaptive significance of arboreality: field evidence from a tree-climbing land snail. Animal Behaviour, 127, 53-66. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.02.022

Speiser, B. (2001). Food and feeding behaviour. In: G. M. Barker (ed). The biology of terrestrial mollusks. (pp. 259-288). New York, USA: CABI publishing.

Speiser, B. & Rowell-Rahier, M. (1991). Effects of food viability, nutritional value and alkaloids on food choice in the generalist herbivore Arianta arbustorum (Gastropoda: Helicidae). Oikos, 62(3), 306-318. DOI: 10.2307/3545495

Suárez, A., & Fernández, A. (2012). Subnicho estructural y densidad poblacional de Cerion politum maisianum y Polymita brocheri en Paso de los Azules, Maisí, Cuba. Novitates Caribaea, 5, 66-72. DOI: 10.33800/nc.v0i5.125

Szlávecz, K. (1986). Food selection and nocturnal behaviour of the land snail, Monadenia hillebrandi mariposa A.G. Smith (Pulmonata: Helminthoglyptidae). The Veliger, 29(2),183-190.

Thakur, S. (1998). Studies on food preference and biology of giant African snail, Achatina fulica in Bihar. Journal of Ecobiology, 10(2), 103-109.

Vetter, J. (2018). Secondary metabolites of ferns. In H. Fernández (ed.) Current Advances in Fern Research (pp. 305-327). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Wagner, G. J. (1991). Secreting glandular trichomes: more than just hairs. Plant physiology, 96(3), 675-679. DOI: 10.1104/pp.96.3.675

Wäreborn, I. (1970). Environmental factors influencing the distribution of land molluscs of an oligotrophic area in southern Sweden. Oikos, 21(2), 285-291. DOI: 10.2307/3543685

Westerbergh, A., & Nyberg, A. B. (1995). Selective grazing of hairless Silene dioica plants by land gastropods. Oikos, 73(3), 289-298. DOI: 10.2307/3545953

Wiesenborn, W. D. (2003). White desertsnail, Eremarionta immaculata (Gastropoda: Pulmonata), activity during daylight after winter rainfall. The Southwestern Naturalist, 48(2), 202-207. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/3672316

Williamson, P., & Cameron, R. A. D. (1976). Natural diet of the landsnail Cepaea nemoralis. Oikos, 27(3), 493-500. DOI: 10.2307/3543468

Wink, M. (1988). Plant breeding: importance of plant secondary metabolites for protection against pathogens and herbivores. Theoretical and applied genetics, 75(2), 225-233. DOI: 10.1007/BF00303957

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.