New snails guide assists conservation efforts

19 November 2010

Australian Land Snails volume 1: a field guide to eastern Australian speciesEnvironmental activist, Terri Irwin today urged people to reconnect with the snails, slugs and bugs in their gardens.

At today’s Queensland Museum book launch of Australian Land Snails volume 1 - a field guide to eastern Australian species, Terri Irwin said that native snails and other invertebrates were important indicators of habitat health.

“Like most people, I misunderstood the important role snails have in the environment,” Terri Irwin said.

“This book has helped me understand that our garden pests are actually introduced species and that our native snails are fantastic environmental indicators, filling an important niche almost everywhere except our gardens.”

Australian Land Snails volume 1: a field guide to eastern Australian species is the first book in over 140 years to document native Australian snails and is a culmination of more than 30 years work.

The user-friendly guide to 794 species, including 308 newly described species, is a collaboration of the Queensland Museum, the Australian Museum and environmental consultancy firm Biodiversity Assessment and Management.

Some of the new species are named after Queensland Museum CEO Dr Ian Galloway and the late Steve Irwin, Peter Brock and Ric Nattrass.

The publication also includes the rare and endangered Boggomoss Snail (Adclarkia dawsonensis) from Queensland and Mitchell’s Rainforest Snail (Thersites mitchellae) from Northern New South Wales.

The field guide of almost 600 pages includes stunning colour images, descriptions, distribution maps, key localities, habitat and ecology notes as well as a key to the 44 families in eastern Australia.

Author, biodiversity scientist and Queensland Museum Honorary, Dr John Stanisic said that native snails were a poorly known group of invertebrates.

“From the stunning beauty and complexity of their shells and body form to their important role in the natural world, native snails play a key role in our ecosystem,” Dr Stanisic said.

“I hope this guide will lead to greater efforts in conserving this important fauna especially as many of the species have small distribution and are currently or potentially threatened by loss or modification of habitat.”

Invertebrates occur in virtually every habitat on earth, dominate in numbers and play a fundamental role as pollinators, decomposers, predators and food sources in the food chains of the world’s ecosystems. Increasingly they are being recognised as important bio-indicators of the health of our environment because of their key role in ecosystems and sensitivity to environmental change.

The publication is targeted at professional and semi-professional malacologists as well as students, amateur historians and those involved in land management.

Australian Land Snails volume 1: a field guide to eastern Australian species retails at $100 and is available from the Queensland Museum South Bank Bookshop.

Media contact: Louise Sturgess on 07 3842 9388 or 0417 741 710.