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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 by mankind.

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.

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