Expeditions

Biodiversity studies concerning shells and molluscs have been performed to a large extent by amateur conchologists. Many serious shell collectors have contributed greatly to the information and scientific knowledge about these different taxa, and shell collections are a documentation of the molluscan diversity that persists over the centuries. The comparison of shell collections assembled in the same place at different times, therefore, also document changes that may have occurred.

 

Some collectors report their findings directly to agencies or biologists, but others simply store their “precious” specimens. It would be of great benefit if this stored information was disseminated so that further knowledge of many of the rarer species could be obtained to enable a better understanding about their abundance, range, habitat, and additional characteristics. In addition, tissue samples could be obtained for many studies including various types of DNA analysis. Through this Foundation, using its centralized database and other collaborative efforts, these goals can be achieved.

 

How gastropods interact in biological communities, understanding large scale global patterns, molluscan physiology, genetics, and a variety of other areas, can be accomplished where previously conchologists lacked the resources and equipment needed to achieve this. There is currently no centralized database, as there is for birds, for collectors to add information. Conchologists do have a great published forum, the American Conchologist, but it appears to be largely ignored by scientists (i.e. never cited in the academic journals). Most of the major molluscan journals (Veliger, Malacologia, etc.) do not accept faunal lists and personal observations from amateurs. Thus, this foundation will allow more global participation in our scientific molluscan knowledge.

 

An unprecedented biodiversity crisis caused by human activities, such as overharvesting, habitat degradation, global warming, pollution, biological invasions, and other stressors, have emerged over the past half century (Gray 1997, Fujikura et al. 2010). Thus, to access the biological diversity and to further the conservation of the taxonomically muddling molluscan groups, a fast and simple approach that can efficiently examine species boundaries and highlight areas of unrecognized diversity is urgently needed.

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