Death crawl

Carnivorous snails of Thailand face extinction due to mining

Published: Wednesday 15 May 2013

imageMANY new taxa of colourful terrestrial Streptaxidae snails have been found in Thailand, a biodiversity hotspot. They live in rock crevices of limestone.

A study published in ZooKeys on April 11 shows the snails are highly endemic, occurring as what the authors call ‘one hill, one species’. Each species inhabits only a certain mountain range, making these species highly susceptible to habitat disturbances. And with limestone ecosystems in Thailand being rapidly mined and destroyed, these newly described snails face extinction threat.

While most snails are herbivorous, three new snail species of genus Perrottetia, are carnivorous. They prey on smaller snails, insect larvae and some species of earthworms. The researchers have found that limestone areas being quarried still possess a struggling ecosystem but carnivorous land snails and other key invertebrates continue to persist in these precarious habitats. This astonishing case of biodiversity persistence is a valuable reason to put effort in the conservation of this important world ecosystem, say the researchers.

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