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Researchers Get Grant to Study Hawaiian Land Snails

Posted on | July 15, 2011 | Comments Off

Hawaiian land snail

Rare native Hawaiian land snail Kaala subrutila. Photo by Norine W. Yeung.

The National Science Foundation’s Biodiversity Discovery and Analysis program has awarded a $650,000 grant to Mānoa’s Center for Conservation Research and Training Assistant Researcher Kenneth Hayes, Researcher Robert Cowie, Assistant Researcher Brenden Holland and Assistant Researcher Norine Yeung. The grant supports a project to advance understanding of the biodiversity and conservation status of native land snails in Hawaiʻi.

Led by Hayes, the project involves an international team of land snail experts from the United States (Hawaiʻi and Florida), France and New Zealand, and will provide training for two postdoctoral researchers, two graduate students and numerous undergraduates at Mānoa.

Land snails help maintain healthy ecosystems, act as indicators of environmental integrity and have distinctive evolutionary, ecological and cultural legacies that are important in understanding biodiversity. The Hawaiian Islands support a spectacular diversity of land snails, with more than 750 species, comparable to the continental USA and Canada combined.

Unfortunately, they have not been comprehensively studied in nearly a century and are vanishing fast. By documenting and identifying the remaining species, assessing their diversity and clarifying their taxonomy and relationships, this project will provide the basis for further study of their biology and conservation in a manner not possible before. Such information is vital to save this biological and cultural legacy.

Read the news release.

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