The Phylum Mollusca is the second largest group of animals on Earth (after Arthropoda) Although man has long been fascinated by the forms and colour patterns of shells the serious recording of the distribution of molluscs was not undertaken until the foundation of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1876. A series of census followed based on the botanical vice-counties of H.C. Watson.
In 1961 the mapping format changed by use of the 10km grid squares within the existing county boundaries. The culmination of these surveys is the 2nd edition of the Atlas of the Land and Freshwater Molluscs of Great Britain and Ireland by Michael Kerney (1999).
To obtain a more objective view of the distribution of species several county recorders have embarked on a more precise mapping scheme dividing each 10km grid square into tetrads (2km x 2km). This endeavour has led to the publication of The Atlas of the Non-Marine Mollusca of the Isle of Wight by R.C.Preece (1980) and The Land and Freshwater Molluscs of Suffolk by I.J.Killeen (1992).
Staffordshire is a large county of 900+ tetrads and at present with one active recorder a 10km square overview is the only realistic target.
Why study Molluscs ?
A particular assemblage of molluscs will indicate the underlying geology, former land use, water and air pollution, and climatic change. They are a major element in the food chain and important in the assessment of sites for conservation.
A systematic survey of the county will lay the foundation for the monitoring of change in the future. It is hoped that the production of this provisional atlas will stimulate interest and further records.
Remember whatever the habitat or season you are never very far away from a mollusc!
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