Dr. Rob Dillon, Coordinator

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Gastropod Meeting in Pittsburgh

To the FWGNA group,

First I should acknowledge 11 new recruits to this list - all FMCS members who have recently indicated an interest in the gastropod committee, and/or attended their first FWGNA meeting last Tuesday evening. Welcome all! Our roster stands at 107 names.

We certainly had a marvelous three days in Pittsburgh. The largest fraction of the 220 registrants were state and federal natural resource managers, with a substantial contingent of aquatic biologists from research institutes large and small, private firms, and small consultancies. Academia was fairly well represented, and a fair number of graduate students were in attendance. The meeting was organized by Tom Proch and hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The 80 talks were organized into seven general topic areas over the three days - Biological Assessment (plenary), Status Surveys, Reproduction/Propagation/Juveniles, Life History & Ecology, Methods, Assessment & Conservation, and Evolution & Phylogenetics. There was also a nice poster session, with 40 contributions. Unionacean mussels were unquestionably the primary focus of the meeting, although there were a few gastropod talks, and even a bit of interest in pisidiid/sphaerid clams.

The Gastropod Committee met from about 5:30 - 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 13. Highlights included the appointment of Ken Brown as our new Co-Chair and a report from Paul Johnson on the National Strategy for Gastropod Conservation, as well as an update on the FWGNA project. Amy Wethington took excellent notes, which Ken kindly volunteered to edit and have typed. See appended.

Plans for two upcoming meetings were roughed out. Freshwater gastropods will be the focus of the AMS meeting in Charleston, August 2002. Paul hopes to have a conservation strategy presented and discussed at that time. A workshop at the FWS Conservation and Training Center in Sheperdstown, possibly in connection with a national reference collection of freshwater gastropods, may also be on the horizon.

Details regarding all these matters depend on the outcome of our most recent NSF proposal, currently still under review. We'll keep you posted!


--------[Begin minutes, FMCS Gastropod meeting]----------

FMCS Gastropod Committee
Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
March 14, 2001

Attending: Rob Dillon (chair), Amy Wethington (sec.), Ken Brown, Tamara Anderson, Jayne Brim Box, Janet Butler, Betty Crump, Ryan Evans, Jeff Garner, Paul Hartfield, Marilyn Hemker, Mark Hove, Paul Johnson, Jacquie Lee, Russ Minton, Malcolm Pierson, Dusty Proctor, Doug Smith, Brian Watson, Charles Watson, Tom Watters, Jeri Wood.

Administrative matters - Rob Dillon was nominated and elected as committee chairperson and Ken Brown was appointed as co-chairperson.

National Strategy for Gastropod Conservation - Paul Johnson described the progress to date on the national strategy for freshwater gastropod conservation. The strategy will incorporate a series of papers given at the Chattanooga meeting, along with a conservation strategy authored and edited by the presenters. Paul hopes to have the strategy finished soon, and plans a presentation and discussion group at the AMS meetings in Charleston in 2002. Paul noted that the strategy will be loosely based on similar strategy papers developed for freshwater fish and mussels, but will be more concise. Rob Dillon encouraged everyone to attend the AMS meetings in Charleston on August 3 - 7, 2002. Lodging will be available at $85 in hotels, or at $20-25 in the dorms. Palmetto bugs will be provided free of charge.

Freshwater Gastropods of North America Project - Rob Dillon summarized the status of this project, and the NSF grant proposal written to fund it. The project, initiated in 1998, is designed in three phases. The first phase involves an inventory of the gastropod lots at the 10 major North American museums, that have approximately 90% of our snail holdings. The NSF proposal involves ten co-PI's, each of whom will have specific responsibilities for museum work. The data will be entered into an electronic data base, a demo of which is available at Rob's College of Charleston web site. Data fields will include precise localities, etc. The proposal also includes the building of a national reference collection including lots from all described species in North America. This collection may be housed at the USFWS National Conservation and Training Center in Sheperdstown. The reference collection will prove valuable to investigators as well as providing a way to check the validity of lots in existing museum collections. If the proposal is not funded, Paul Johnson suggested a workshop at the AMS meetings involving a large group of malacologists to re-design the proposal, and a professional mediator to help arbitrate the changes so that future proposals would have higher chances of success. Paul Hartfield pointed out that there is still a lot of disagreement about proper classification, especially in groups like the pleurocerids.

Phase II of the project will involve an extensive field survey that will emphasize geographic regions that are not well covered in museums, or where losses in diversity have occurred. A renewal from NSF will also fund this work, with a group of co-PI's responsible for specific geographic regions, and using subcontractors or students to do most of the field work. Doug Smith pointed out that a specific protocol is needed for collections. Tissues cannot be preserved in formalin if DNA work will be necessary, etc. Paul Johnson requested that Doug develop such a protocol, and Doug agreed. Doug will forward the protocol to Paul or Rob, and requests suggestions as to the specifics that different workers (e.g., anatomists, biochemists) will need. Rob will send material from a book by Charles Sturm on collecting snails to Doug. Proper field notes with precise location, habitat type, abundance, size distribution, etc. will also be necessary. A workshop for proper collection and preservation methods would be a good idea for the next AMS meetings.

Phase III of the project will be a monograph for all North American species. The monograph will have several pages per species with descriptions, range maps and recommendations for conservation. The monograph will also be in an online version eventually. Jayne Brim Box noted she is building a data base of snails in western states and provided some data on diversity in each state. It was also suggested that we use school children to help collect data, or use collections or databases compiled by state agencies. Benefits would involve harvesting a lot of information at a relatively small price, although concerns were voiced about how to standardize such collections, or make sure voucher specimens were available. Participants were urged to contact Rob Dillon if they have additional suggestions for the project.

The meeting was adjourned.