Research project: Morphological and molecular investigations of the Southern Hemisphere land snail Gyrocochlea


Start date:

Museum investigators

External investigators

  • John Stanisic, Associate of Queensland Museum

Funded by

  • Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS)


Charopidae is a family of pulmonate land snails widely distributed in the Southern Hemisphere. The family is widespread in Australia and contains many narrow range species that are potentially very useful as predictors of invertebrate diversity and regional conservation value. The majority of charopid species, many in the speciose genus Gyrocochlea, have not been formally described.

Gyrocochlea shells are generally biconcave shells with a strong radial sculpture. We are using shell characters, anatomy and DNA sequence data to describe some of these. The results to date based on scanning electron microscope examination of the ultrastructural ornamentation on the 'protoconch' (the earliest formed part of the shell) suggest that Gyrocochlea as previously understood comprises multiple genera.

In the longer term, extensions to the DNA sequence data collected for this project are intended to provide a framework for understanding generic relationships in Australian Charopidae and, we hope, to place these in the overall context of the family's evolution.

The distribution of Gyrocochlea species has been investigated on a number of recent field trips. Information on these distributions and the species' genetic relationships may prove very helpful in elucidating the complex biogeography of south-eastern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Dr Don Colgan , Principal Research Scientist
Michael Shea
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