While most of his time is spent studying freshwater mussels, the McClung’s Curator of Malacology, Gerry Dinkins, can also be found surveying land snails. Here’s his latest report.
My wife, Barbara Dinkins, is a significant contributor to the McClung’s terrestrial gastropod collection and formidable scholar. Last September, we spent a couple of days in a rugged, mountainous region of northern Alabama documenting the land snail community in an area that is being considered for protection via conservation easement. Alabama’s biodiversity is notable, especially when it comes to mollusks.
Numerous species of land snails were encountered, as well as the Southern Devil Scorpion (Vaejovis carolinianus). While not deadly, they can inflict a painful sting, as I can attest! This species of arachnid can be found throughout the southeastern US, from roughly Virginia to northern Mississippi.
The process of establishing the ecological value of land being offered for permanent conservation protection requires a diligent and coordinated effort. A team of trained and experienced specialists spend a number of hours, if not days (and sometimes nights), documenting and collecting terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna on the land parcel.
Oftentimes, specimens collected as part of an effort such as this will be permanently archived for future reference and study at a recognized biological repository, such as the McClung Museum’s renowned Malacology Collection.