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Cultural Ecology of the Queen Conch. Strombus gigas (Class Gastropoda). Other Conch Species. Florida Crown Florida Fighting Florida Horse Hawking Milk West Indian Crown West Indian Fighting. Anatomy. Shared with other gastropods (stomach-footed) Reaches 30 cm in length

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cultural ecology of the queen conch

Cultural Ecology of the Queen Conch

Strombus gigas

(Class Gastropoda)

other conch species
Other Conch Species
  • Florida Crown
  • Florida Fighting
  • Florida Horse
  • Hawking
  • Milk
  • West Indian Crown
  • West Indian Fighting
anatomy
Anatomy
  • Shared with other gastropods (stomach-footed)
  • Reaches 30 cm in length
  • Mature conch has flared lip
  • Shell spines help reduce predation
    • Larger shell
    • Distributes crushing pressure over surface of shell
    • Attachment device for epibionts to conceal shell
habitat and feeding habits
Habitat and Feeding Habits
  • Seagrass beds
  • Eats grasses, epiphytes and detritus
  • Have you seen a conch on our dives?
  • How big?
juveniles
Juveniles
  • Juveniles bury selves to escape predation, until ≈ 5 cm (Iverson et. al. 1989)
  • Prime juvenile habitat:
    • Intermediate density of seagrass (30-80 g dry wt/m2 )
    • 2-4 meters
    • Strong tidal currents
    • Most seagrass beds cannot support juveniles
reproduction and life cycle
Reproduction and Life Cycle
  • Internal fertilization
  • Metamorphosis from larvae triggered by low molecular weight compounds associated with red algae (Boettcher & Target 1997)
  • Variations in shell development appear to be influenced more by local environment than genetic variability (Martin-Mora & James 1995)
research
Research
  • Approximately 230 published papers by 1997
  • Publication driven mainly by maricultural concerns
  • Formal descriptions of larval stage of several Strombus species first appeared in 1993
threats
Threats
  • Over-”harvested” for…
    • Food
    • Shell used for jewelry and decoration
  • Productive areas become “sinks”
  • Only 5,000-9,000 in Florida
  • Fishing restrictions
    • Fishing moratorium in Florida since 1985 (little to no recovery, relies on unpredictable current?)
    • Bahamas restricted to free diving (unfortunately, juveniles and young adults are in the shallows)
future
Future
  • Hatcheries producing millions of juveniles, but survival rate very poor compared to wild (Xanthid crabs a major predator of juveniles)
    • Thinner shells, shorter spines, low burial frequency
  • Substrate enclosure? (Iverson et. al. 1989)
  • May need higher density for males and females to detect one another (internal fertilization)
  • Must begin to take a metapopulation perspective (Stoner 1997:21)
an hypothesis based on info from jyl
An Hypothesis Based on Info from Jyl
  • Given that a colony of Conch will vacate an area once removed from that colony (Lapachin 1999), and…
  • That under “natural” conditions there is much less predation of the adult vs. juvenile conch, then…
  • Perhaps human predation has the double effect of not only removing a single conch, but also reducing survival of others due to energy-loss (= bears in the wild)
the conch in mesoamerica

The Conch in Mesoamerica

Archaeological and Ethnohistoric Evidence

early images
Early Images
  • Teotihuacan 0-700 AD
  • Central Valley of Mexico
  • An empire’s symbol of control over distant ecological zones
xochicalco
Xochicalco
  • Warring City States following the collapse of Teotihuacan
  • Associated with the rain deity (Tlaloc?)
  • Symbol of wealth
  • Acquired by trade rather than conquest
the mexica
The Mexica
  • Ceremonial uses
    • cardinal directions
    • Tlaloque
    • maintain seasonal balance, duality (Tlaloc/Huitzilopochtli)
  • Trade and tribute
  • Protein sources highly prized
is there anything to learn from mesoamerican civilizations
Is there anything to learn from Mesoamerican civilizations?
  • Not just balance in modern sense, but integration of humans & the rest of the “natural” world
  • Vs. the natural/cultural approach, managed/wild
  • Sanctions for violating life (human sacrifice), enculturation processes which produce a sense of awe and symbiotic pleasure (Nahua)
  • No se puede comer La Patria