Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Tree-climbing behaviour of Cerithidea decollata, a western Indian Ocean mangrove gastropod (Mollusca: Potamididae)

Marco  Vannini a1c1, Rocco  Rorandelli a1, Outi  Lähteenoja a2, Elisha  Mrabu a3 and Sara  Fratini a1
a1 Università di Firenze, Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e Genetica “L. Pardi”, Italy
a2 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
a3 Kenyan Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Mombasa, Kenya

Article author query
vannini m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
rorandelli r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lähteenoja o   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mrabu e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
fratini s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The behaviour of Cerithidea decollata, a common western Indian Ocean mangrove tree climbing gastropod, was studied in Mida Creek, Kenya. At the study site, this snail mainly lived in Avicennia marina dominated areas, i.e. in the mangrove belt between high water spring tide and high water neap tide levels. Not a single individual was found on the less common mangrove tree Lumnitzera racemosa, living just above the A. marina level (together with terrestrial grass), and was very rarely recorded on the common Rhizophora mucronata, bordering the seaward side of the A. marina belt. No significant gradient of C. decollata density was found within the whole 150–200 m wide belt. The majority of C. decollata rested on tree trunks during high tide, creeping on the mud flat below the tree for part of low tide, and returning on the trunks well before being reached by the water. This migratory pattern was more evident at spring than at neap tide, at day than at night time and it was strongly influenced by the shore level of the mangrove zone in which animals resided. While C. decollata from lower shore levels neatly massively migrated twice a day, individuals from upper levels showed a more continuous and irregular activity, sometimes crawling on the mud even at high water of spring tide, when they experience just a few centimetres of water for no more than one to two hours.

(Published Online December 15 2006)
(Received March 23 2006)
(Accepted November 8 2006)

c1 Corresponding author, e-mail: