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Austin Butterfly Forum Meeting: Land Snails of Texas: Diversity and Conservation, presented by Ben Hutchins
September 28, 2015 @ 7:00 pm
September 28, 2015, 7 PM meeting: Land Snails of Texas: Diversity and Conservation, presented by Ben Hutchins.
Texas is home to approximately 200 species of terrestrial snails with a fascinating diversity of shell shapes, ecological requirements, and biogeography. However, as a group, snails are largely overlooked by the naturalist community because of their small size, cryptic habits, inaccessible habitats, and a lack of resources for identification. Because of their wide distribution across the state and the long-term persistence of shells on the landscape, terrestrial snails can be an excellent subject for naturalists. Traditionally, identification of snails by naturalists has been hindered by a lack of accessible field guides. Texas Parks and Wildlife is currently working on development of an online resource to aid naturalists in identification and documentation of land snails in Texas.
Conservation of terrestrial snails is hindered by a lack of basic distributional data, as a consequence of cryptic life habits, incomplete sampling, and taxonomic uncertainty. Despite this lack of data, several Texas species are likely critically imperiled due to habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. Citizens can play a role in documenting the distribution of Texas land snails, particularly non-native species that are frequently encountered around urban centers.
Ben Hutchins was born in Kentucky where he received his B.S. in Biology from Western Kentucky University. He received his M.S. in Biology from American University, Washington DC, studying the phylogeography of groundwater invertebrates in the Shenandoah Valley. After volunteering with the Peace Corps in Morocco, he moved to San Marcos, TX in 2009. He received a PhD in Aquatic Resources from Texas State University in 2013, studying food web structure in groundwater communities in the Edwards Aquifer. Ben is currently employed by Texas Parks and Wildlife as the State Invertebrate Biologist for the Nongame and Rare Species Program where he gained an interest in the state’s terrestrial snail fauna.
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