Tag Archives: conservation

The Coppois collection

Guy Coppois (at the Université Libre de Bruxelles) has for many years been interested in Galápagos snails, particularly the Naesiotus species living there. Back in the 1970s we wrote a paper on this genus together, although I never met him (all data were exchanged by snail-mail). And in the 1980s he seemed to have based his PhD on this group, although his thesis was never published and till today I haven’t seen it.

Recently some Americans discovered that material from different museums had been sent on loan to Coppois and had never been returned. For several years he is now already retired at the University and doesn’t respond on emails. Thanks to the mediation of an entomological colleague, part of the loan material had already been recovered and returned, but on his request I went yesterday to ULB to see if anything else remained to be salvaged.

The room was in complete disorder, and chaotic is a mild expression for it. Boxes, collections of empty jars, old apparatuses and computers no longer in use, and piles of papers; it was a complete mess.

The Galápagos malacofauna has been studied during recent year by Christine Parent and students. They have found that in the field species have been hard to find and likely some species may have become extinct. The material that Coppois has collected, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, but some also from later date, has thus considerable scientific importance and should be well-kept in a professional collection.

In this context I have tried to find my way in this room and discovered in separate places parts of this collection. As a temporary measure I have put everything, as far as possible, together in one large box with a jar of alcohol preserved specimens kept separate. Between all the material I identified 4 lots from foreign museums that need to be returned; one from Senckenberg and three from the California Academy of Sciences.

This historical collection, although only some 30+ years old, is of special interest and we will make sure it will get a decent ‘home’.
To be continued…

Update: for the time being the collection will remain at ULB.


New Tentacle issue available

Tentacle issue 26 is available now via this link. As always a very interesting overview of short papers and notes related to the conservation of molluscs.

The issue starts with an In Memoriam for Tony Whitten (1953-2017) who, although mainly involved with conservation in Asia, has been of importance for stimulating malacologists for conservation issues. This is best illustrated by a quote from 2001 which was added by the editor: “I would venture to suggest that the majority of malacologists need to poke their heads out from the security of their shells and slither rapidly to be heard and become involved in the issues that threaten the organisms on which their careers are based. This does not mean that this topic take over your own particular speciality and distract your research programme, but it does recognize that you have a profound responsibility to do something [my italics]. The actual and potential threats to many mollusc species, and the trends, can’t get much worse”.

Related to the Neotropics, the following notes are included:

1. Espinosa, A. Measures to control Lissachatina fulica: impact on native terrestrial molluscs in the Dominican Republic.
This papers tells the story how an area of secondary forest, where in August 2017 nine endemic species were found, plus the achatinid, was a few months later completely ‘treated’ with molluscicides and deforestation.

2. Santos, S.B. dos & Miyahira, I.G. Evaluation of the list of endangered non-marine molluscs in Brasil in progress.

3. Agudo-Padron, I. Conservation of non-marine molluscs in Central Southern Brasil: revised and updated inventory of species of Santa Catarina State.

4. Salvador, R.B. et al. Presumed extinct land snail Megalobulimus cardosoi found again in Pedra Talhada Biological Reserve, north-east Brasil.

Molluscs in the news

Two news items came to my attention today. The first has been taken from the Conch-L list and is about conservation of Florida land snails. “Florida Fish and Wildlife [Conservation Commission] has just sent out a posting regarding endangered and threatened species. There are two proposed rulings on Tree snails. The one  is Liguus and the other is Orthalicus. Here is the Liguus and other species  link. http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imperiled/species-action-plans/”. Only Liguus fasciatus is mentioned, together with more than 50 species of other phyla.

Liguus Florida

The ‘Science in the news’ site had an item on natural history museums and how these institutions, behind the scenes, are centers of cutting-edge research. One example is the recent discovery of a Plekocheilus species, collected back in the 1800s. More brushing off the dust than cutting the edge, but anyway…

Extinction of land snails

My gut feeling about the IUCN Red List, the stringent and bureaucratic procedure involved, and the few land snails listed on it, have given me an uneasy feeling for quite some years. Now Régnier et al. (2015) have published a study in which they offer an alternative approach, viz. with a mixture of a model study and expert opinions.

Their abstract is brief: “Since the 1980s, many have suggested we are in the midst of a massive extinction crisis, yet only 799 (0.04%) of the 1.9 million known recent species are recorded as extinct, questioning the reality of the crisis. This low figure is due to the fact that the status of very few invertebrates, which represent the bulk of biodiversity, have been evaluated. Here we show, based on extrapolation from a random sample of land snail species via two independent approaches, that we may already have lost 7% (130,000 extinctions) of the species on Earth. However, this loss is masked by the emphasis on terrestrial vertebrates, the target of most conservation actions. Projections of species extinction rates are controversial because invertebrates are essentially excluded from these scenarios. Invertebrates can and must be assessed if we are to obtain a more realistic picture of the sixth extinction crisis”. But their summarizing figure shows the following picture:

Schermafbeelding 2015-06-15 om 16.03.46

From their discussion I derive the following quotes: “The current Red List underestimates the actual number of extinct and threatened invertebrate species: there are almost seven times as many extinctions in our sample as would have been listed following the IUCN criteria, and we suggest that discrepancies of this order of magnitude, or greater, given that mollusks are one of the better known invertebrate groups, should be expected for other invertebrate groups. (…) a number of studies and our own work suggest that invertebrate extinctions are mostly overlooked: we suggest that we have probably already lost 7% of described living species of the world. On oceanic islands, there is evidence that this percentage is much higher”. This is really alarming!

Their method involved a random selection of taxa that have been assessed. For the Neotropical realm the following species were involved: Amphistemma pilsbryanum, Arangia aequatoris, Bostryx apertus, Bostryx baeri, Bostryx dentaxis, Bostryx gayi, Bostryx haasi, Brachypodella collaris, Bulimulus erectus, Bulimulus inermis, Callocoptis vesperalis, Capillacea angustior guamaensis, Cochlodinella variegata, Dentellaria chemnitziana, Drymaeus albolabiatus, Drymaeus chaperi, Drymaeus combinai, Drymaeus icterostomus, Drymaeus mexicanus, Drymaeus picturataEucalodium moussonianum, Eurytus ameghinoi, Eurytus glandiformis, Eurytus pirriensis, Gongylostomella fortis, Guestieria martinida, Hispaniolana gigantea, Labyrinthus stolzmanni, Leiostracus coxiranus, Leiostracus spiritualis, Liparotes obesulus, Liparotes obesulus obesus, Lyobasis binneyi, Martirelix huertai, Obeliscus pattalus, Plagioptycha duclosiana abacoensis, Plekocheilus appuni, Praticolella berlandieriana, Radiodiscus ditzleri, Stenostylus meleagris, Streptostyla chiriquiana, Streptostyla flavescens boucardi, Streptostyla irrigua, Streptostyla potosiana, Thaumastus integer, Thaumastus yanamensis, Torrecoptis polita, Trilamellaxis parallela culebrensis, Urocoptis producta, Varicella angiostoma ingallsiana, Zachrysia auricoma. Species that were rated as ‘probably extinct’ in the model assessment are printed in bold. Both in the model and the expert approach the number of species that are qualified as ‘unable resp. not possible to assess’ is relatively high. So the lack of knowledge about the conservation status of land molluscs is still at an alarming level. Given the methodology used this is also a pregnant result of this important study.

Régnier, C., Achaz, G., Lambert, A., Cowie, R., Bouchet, P. & Fontaine, B., 2015. Mass extinction in poorly known taxa. – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Published online before printJune 8, 2015, doi:10.1073/pnas.1502350112  (see Full Text (PDF)).

New issue of Tentacle

Robert Cowie and his co-editors have succeeded to publish a new issue of Tentacle, the IUCN/ SSC Newsletter that appears annually. There are several papers in this issue relevant to Neotropical malacology.

Salvador & Simone report on a presumably new Leiostracus species from Minas Gerais, which may be extinct as the small patch of rainforest where it was found a few years ago has been cleared meanwhile. The variation in colour pattern observed in their material is, despite their remark of being “extremely variable”, not uncommon in arboreal species like Leiostracus, Drymaeus and other genera in the superfamily.

Schermafbeelding 2015-02-18 om 12.11.52

Agudo-Padrón & Luz report on a nursery project for Megalobulimus paranaguensis (Pilsbry & Ihering, 1900) in the city of Joinville (Santa Catarina). The first author, in a separate note, also on a salvage effort for a small population of Drymaeus (Mesembrinus) interpunctus (Martens, 1887). In a third note, he draws attention to the precarious official conservation status for mollusks in the States of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Suarez & Martínez report on the finding of a new population of Cerion tridentatum rocai Clench & Aguayo, 1953, on the Itabo River bank, in Boca Ciega, Havana, Cuba, approximately 4 km west of the type locality.

Schermafbeelding 2015-02-18 om 12.19.52

Fernández et al. provide data on rock dwelling species at risk due to recreational developments in Holguín, Cuba. Given the recent political changes this risk may turn out to devastate other snail populations along the Cuban coast in the time to come.

Simone draws attention to the recently described Adelopoma species from a park in Sao Paulo (see also here).

In three separate notes, Herrera reports on snails from the Island of Youth, Cuba (= Isla de la Juventus, formerly Isla de Pinas). One with a new locality record for a colour variation of Liguus fasciatus, one with a new locality for Priotrochatella stellata, and the last one on conservation issues in the Sierra de las Casas.

Schermafbeelding 2015-02-18 om 13.12.23

Santos and a suite of co-authors finally devote two pages on their efforts to update the list of endangered non-marine molluscs in Brazil. The new list features eight land snail species.

Comparing these papers with previous issues, it may be noted that the diversity of authors and topics (Brazilian and Cuban land snails) is diminishing. The complete issue is available online at: http://www.hawaii.edu/cowielab/Tentacle/Tentacle_23.pdf

AGUDO-PADRÓN, A.I., 2015a. Small actions making big differences: rescue of small native arboreal snails in an urban area of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina State, Central Southern Brasil. – Tentacle 23: 11-12.
AGUDO-PADRÓN, A.I., 2015b. The precarious official conservation status of molluscs in the States of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brasil. – Tentacle 23: 19-20.
AGUDO-PADRÓN, A.I. & LUZ, J.S. da., 2015. Active conservation of threatened indigenous land gastropods in the urban area of Joinville, Santa Catarina State, Central Southern Brasil. – Tentacle 23: 9-10.
FERNANDEZ, A., SUAREZ, A. & FRANKE, S., 2015. New records of rock dwelling mooluscs at risk from tourist developments on the coastal zone of Pesquepo Nuevo, Holguin, Cuba – Tentacle 23:  13-15.
HERRERA, J., 2015a. New localities for Liguus fasciatus (Müller, 1774) from the Island of Youth, Cuba. – Tentacle 23: 15-16.
HERRERA, J., 2015b. New locality for Priotrochatella stellata (Gastropoda: Helicinidae) from the Island of Youth, Cuba. – Tentacle 23: 20-21.
HERRERA, J., 2015c. Land snails of Suerra de las Casas protected area (Island of Youth, Cuba) and their conservation problems. – Tentacle 23: 23-24.
SALVADOR, R.B. & SIMONE, L.R.L., 2015. The discovery and possible extinction of a Leiostracus land snail in Southeastern Brasil. – Tentacle 23: 7-9.
SANTOS, S.B. dos et al., 2015. Observations on the review of the list of endangered non-marine molluscs of Brasil. – Tentacle 23: 26-28.
SIMONE, L.R.L., 2015. A new species discovered in an urban park within the third largest city in the world. – Tentacle 23: 18-19.
SUAREZ, A. & MARTINEZ, J., 2015. New data on Cerion tridentatum rocai, locally endemic to Boca Ciega, La Habana, Cuba. – Tentacle 23: 10-11.

Polymita: a new book

For those who have ever wanted to see the astonishing colour diversity in Cuban tree snails of the genus Polymita, there is good news. After a very long and complicated process recently the new book by Adrián González finally appeared. It presents hundreds of colourful photographs of the six Polymita species and their natural environment, plus backgrounds on its malacohistory and the urging conservation issues for these over-hunted gems.


González Guillén, A., 2014. Polymita, the most beautiful land snail of the world. Carlos M. Estevez & Associates, Miami, 359 pp. (More info at the publisher: cecon14@aol.com)

Tentacle 22

Robert Cowie just released the annual number of Tentacle; this journal on molluscs conservation issues has reached now issue 22.


Regarding the Neotropical realm contributions are made by some authors that regularly use Tentacle as outlet. Agudo Padrón & Souza da Luz report briefly on a study about conservation of non-marine molluscs in remaining urban forests. In such a remnant in Florianópolis they found 15 native species and 9 alien ones. The first author also briefly reports on richness and regional distribution within the state of Santa Catarina in a second article.

The announcement of a consulting process together with experts to evaluate the extinction risk of non-marine molluscs in Brazil by  Santos & Carvalho; the evaluating workshop is scheduled for September 2014.

Santos, Oliveira & Vasconcelos report on ecological research in the Atlantic Forest of Ilha Grande, Brazil. This is part of a larger research programme spanning all Brazilian biomes, and the first to include land and freshwater snails.

Maceira et al. contribute to this issue with a note “Molluscs and their conservation problems in the San Miguel de Parada Faunal Refuge, eastern Cuba”. Four terrestrial species are reproted, of which two exotic species.

The entire issue can be found here: http://www.hawaii.edu/cowielab/issues.htm