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Looking for your snail...!

We would like to ask you for help with collecting live Burgundy (=Roman) snails (Helix pomatia) for our research project. We are trying to find out where the species originated, where it survived the climatic changes in the last hundreds of thousands years, from where it spread to various parts of Europe and how was its distribution influenced by human actions. Therefore we need a quite dense network of samples throughout large parts of Europe. For mutual comparison, we are seeking Helix from both human-influenced localities and more natural environments. We need for molecular analyses, most conveniently living individuals (which are easy to store and send).
  • You may see the approximate distribution of Helix pomatia and the localities sampled so far here: http://goo.gl/cIX0mT. The map is regularly updated as the new samples arrive.
  • Helix is easy to identify: it is the largest snail in Europe, with shell 3-6 cm in diameter. Helix pomatia is brown, sometimes with darker bands; only rarely is yellowish. There are no white spots on the shell.
  • Helix is usually fairly common in towns and villages, along roads and railways, in gardens, along streams etc. More difficult is to find Helix in more natural environments. In forests they are in low numbers, inhabiting more sunny spots and shrubs. They avoid conifer forests. They are most easily found after rain or in the morning; they spend days on the ground between herbs or stuck to various objects.
  • We usually place the collected snails into fabric bags – we recommend old nylon socks. With each sample, we include locality labels, which must be themselves in small plastic bags (otherwise the snails eat them happily). Locality information must include precise location (best accompanied with GPS coordinates), date of collection and collector, eventually further remarks. The snails are preferably stored undisturbed, best in lower temperatures (may be even kept in a fridge) and in a rather dry place, so that they remain inactive. They must not be stored in anything impermeable to air.
  • The snails may be sent to the following address:
    Ondřej Korábek
    Department of Ecology
    Charles University
    Viničná 7
    12844 Prague 2
    Czech Republic
  • To answer the questions indicated at the beginning in a broader context, we study also all other species of Helix, which are found mostly in south-eastern Europe and in Asia Minor. We would be thus happy also for any other Helix species as well.
  • In case of any questions please do not hesitate to contact us at ondrej.korabek@gmail.com


Published: Apr 22, 2014 11:05 PM

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