Distribution and habitats of Bulinus natalensis and its role as intermediate host of economically important helminth parasites in South Africa
This article focusses on the geographical distribution and habitats of Bulinus natalensis, as reflected by the samples taken from 244 collection sites on record in the database of the National Freshwater Snail Collection (NFSC) at the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University. This snail species is experimentally susceptible to Schistosoma haematobium and is incriminated in the natural transmission of S. margrebowiei, S. bovis and Calicophoron microbothrium elsewhere in Africa. The 78 different loci (1/16 degree squares) on record reflect a geographical distribution that is largely limited to the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Details of each habitat as described by collectors during surveys, as well as altitude and mean annual air temperature and rainfall for each locality, were processed and chi-squared and effect size values calculated. A decision tree constructed from all the available data indicated that temperature and altitude, followed by the type of water body, seemed to be the more important factors that significantly influenced the distribution of this species in South Africa. The possible role of this species as intermediate host of economically important helminth species is briefly examined. The need to clarify its relationships with B. tropicus and B. depressus, and to update the geographical distribution in South Africa, is also emphasised.
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