Research project: Morphological and molecular investigations of the Southern Hemisphere land snail family Charopidae
- Start date:
- 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. Our investigations of these snails in the central and northern eastern region of NSW have revealed eight new genera and nineteen new species based on DNA, shell morphology (including scanning electron microscope examination of the ultrastructural ornamentation on the 'protoconch' which is the earliest formed part of the shell) and anatomy.
In the longer term, extensions to the DNA sequence data collected for this project will 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.
Dr Don Colgan , Principal Research Scientist