Land snail diversity in Brazil

Brazil is a megadiverse country, which is a fancy way of saying that it harbors a good portion of Earth’s biodiversity. Nevertheless, the known Brazilian land snail fauna is seemingly not that diverse, with just over 700 species. That is perhaps due to this fauna being little studied; some researchers estimate that only circa one third of the Brazilian land snail fauna is known. The bulk of the unknown species might lie with the so-called microgastropods, snails of 1 to 5 mm which live “hidden” in the undergrowth. In any event, even with the larger snails, it is very common to find entirely new species in virtually every sample we analyze.


Cave-dwelling snails

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Gastrocopta sharae, a new species discovered in a cave in Goiás.

People barely see the regular snails crawling around, but cave-dwelling ones are really hidden from sight. However, this might be a true treasure trove of biodiversity, with some species even bearing adaptation to life in the deep recesses of the Earth.

So far, my colleagues and I have studied caves from the Brazilian states of Goiás, Bahia and São Paulo. We have discovered some new species, of course, and more are definitely out there awaiting discovery.

These are the publications dealing with the cave-dwelling snail fauna:

  • SALVADOR, R.B.; CAVALLARI, D.C.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2016. Taxonomical study on a sample of land snails from Alto Ribeira State Park (São Paulo, Brazil), with description of a new species. Archiv für Molluskenkunde 145(1): 59–68.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B.; CAVALLARI, D.C.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2017. Taxonomical study on a sample of land and freshwater snails from caves in central Brazil, with description of a new species. Zoosystematics and Evolution 93(1): 135–141.  [PDF]

A possible hotspot in Bahia

One area that is proving to be extremely diverse, including several new findings of large and colorful snails, is Bahia state. This diversity might be linked to the fact that this state harbors the boundaries of three Brazilian biomes: the Cerrado, the Caatinga and the Atlantic Rainforest. Such high diversity needs special attention, both for the preservation of the likely endemic areas as well as in-depth studies of basic biology and evolution of unusual adaptations to semi-arid or cave environments.In this regard, special attention is needed for the Caatinga and Cerrado environments, which are rarely targets of environmental and conservation activities.

Bahia diversity
Some of the new species recently described from Bahia. 1. Oxychona maculata, family Bulimulidae (shell length 17.9 mm). 2. Solaropsis alcobacensis, Pleurodontidae (33.2 mm). 3. Cyclodontina tapuia¸ Odontostomidae (22.9 mm). 4. Leiostracus fetidus, Bulimulidae (21.2 mm). 5. Kora corallina, Bulimulidae (43.4 mm).

Works reporting this diversity in Bahia are:

  • CAVALLARI, D.C.; SALVADOR, R.B.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2016. A possible land snail diversity hotspot in Bahia state, Brazil. Tentacle 24: 14-16.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & CAVALLARI, D.C. 2013. A New Oxychona species (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Orthalicidae) from Bahia state, Brazil. Journal of Conchology 41: 315-318.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & CAVALLARI, D.C. 2013. Taxonomic revision of Leiostracus onager and Leiostracus subtuszonatus (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Orthalicidae). Journal of Conchology 41: 511-518.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & CAVALLARI, D.C. 2014. A new species of Leiostracus from Bahia, Brazil (Gastropoda, Pulmonata, Orthalicidae). Iheringia, Série Zoologia, 104: 39-42.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & SIMONE, L.R.L. 2014. New species of Cyclodontina from Bahia, Brazil (Gastropoda, Pulmonata, Odontostomidae). Iheringia, Série Zoologia, 104: 484-487.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & SIMONE, L.R.L. 2015. Taxonomical study on a sample of land snails from Alcobaça (Bahia, Brazil), with description of a new species. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde A 8: 1-7.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & SIMONE, L.R.L. 2016. A new species of Kora from Bahia, Brazil (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Orthalicoidea), with an emended diagnosis of the genus. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde A, Neue Serie 9: 1–7.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B.; CAVALLARI, D.C.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2017. Taxonomical study on a sample of land and freshwater snails from caves in central Brazil, with description of a new species. Zoosystematics and Evolution 93(1): 135–141.  [PDF]

Diversity everywhere

Works reporting the diversity of land snails elsewhere in Brazil are:

  • BIRCKOLZ, C.J.; SALVADOR, R.B.; CAVALLARI, D.C.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2016. Illustrated checklist of newly described (2006–2016) land and freshwater Gastropoda from Brazil. Archiv für Molluskenkunde 145(2): 133–150.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B. & CAVALLARI, D.C. 2014. A new species of Leiostracus (Gastropoda, Pulmonata, Orthalicoidea) from Espírito Santo, Brazil. Iheringia, Série Zoologia, 104: 364-366.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B.; CAVALLARI, D.C.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2015. Taxonomical study on a sample of land snails from southeastern Tocantins state, Brazil, with description of a new species. Journal of Conchology 42: 67-78.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B.; COLLEY, E.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2018. Terrestrial mollusks from the region of Corumbá and Maciço do Urucum, SW Brazil. Journal of Conchology 43(1): 71–88.  [PDF]
  • SALVADOR, R.B.; SILVA, N.G.; ALVES, R.J.V.; MOURA, R.L.; SIMONE, L.R.L. 2014. New records of Helicina inaequistriata (Gastropoda: Helicinidae) from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states, Brazil. Check List 10: 936-938.  [PDF]
  • SIMONE, L.R.L. & SALVADOR. 2016. Taxonomical study on a sample of land snails from Nanuque (Minas Gerais, Brazil), with descriptions of three new species. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde A, Neue Serie 9: 9–30.  [PDF]
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