COA AND CONSERVATION
Land Mollusks in danger
There are many species
of land snails currently listed as endangered, threatened or
extinct. Many of these species were adapted to very specific
living conditions which were destroyed or irreparably damaged
This kind of tragedy can be seen
on the Hawaiian Islands. At one time they were inhabited by
of the most diverse native land snail faunas in the world. Over
99% of the described species were endemic to these islands.
Unfortunately, most, if not all, of these unique snails are
now either extinct or endangered.
Another example is the endangered
Stock Island Tree Snail, Orthalicus reses reses. This
snail's historic range included Stock Island and Key West, Florida.
The population was so reduced by habitat destruction that it
was listed as threatened in 1978. Current surveys have been
unable to locate any individuals in its historic range. A current
collaborative project between the Florida Game and Fresh Water
Fish Commission, Stock Island Golf Course, Key West Botanical
Gardens, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
is trying to reestablish this unique mollusk into part of its
historical range in 1996.
Endangered land snails don't
all live on islands. The Iowa Pleistocene Snail, Discus macclintocki,
was listed as an endangered species in 1978. These snails live
on the algific talus slopes of hills in Iowa and Illinois. There
are only about 30 such sites left due to climate change and
habitat alteration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state,
county, private conservation agencies and private landowners
are all currently working to preserve the snail and its habitat.