A succineid story

Novisuccinea strigata and it’s Australian connection

Novisuccinea strigata (L. Pfeiffer, 1855), the Striate Ambersnail and the subject of a future post on its proper generic placement, is an arctic-boreal terrestrial mollusc living northern British Columbia, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories (and perhaps further east), the Bering Strait region (both sides), and perhaps Greenland (Pilsbry 1948). Although described from Arctic Alaska — as were four additional taxa that were included in the synonyms by Pilsbry (1948) — strigata has been wrongly treated as a synonym of a South Australian species!

Novisuccinea strigata

Novisuccinea strigata, Hyland River, BC.

There seems to be long-existing confusion by Australian malacologists as to what is Succinea strigata Pfeiffer, 1855. They mostly cite the name as a synonym of the Australian Succinea australis (Férussac, 1821). This confusion may have as its origins in the publication of Angas (1864), who used the name for a South Australian succineid. (There may have been earlier use of S. strigata but I haven’t found it.) Other early authors followed this usage (Cox 1868, Petterd 1879), and Iredale (1937) even stated that the Pfeiffer’s type locality was in error. How he came to this conclusion, I’m not sure.

Although Pilsbry (1948: 810, footnote) attempted to rectify this matter and indicated that S. strigata of Angas, 1864 (but not that species described by L. Pfeiffer in 1855), is a synonym of S. australis, the misuse of the name nevertheless stayed imbedded in the recent Australian literature as a synonym of S. australis (for example, Smith & Kershaw 1979, Smith 1992, and Smith et al. 2002).


Source: Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Inasmuch as Pfeiffer (1855: 297) explicitly cited “Port Clarence, Behring’s Straits” as the locality for his new species, and that his description fits well with the modern conchological concept of the species — he gave no anatomical data — the association of this name to an Australian species is surely erroneous.

Literature cited

  • Angas, G.F. 1864. On the land-shells of South Australia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London for 1863: 519–523. Link→
  • Cox, J.C. 1868. A Monograph of Australian Land Shells. Maddock, Sydney. v + 110 pp., 18 pls. Link→
  • Iredale, T. 1937. A basic list of the land Mollusca of Australia. Australian Zoologist 8: 287–333.
  • Petterd, W.F. A monograph of land shells of Tasmania. Launceton Examiner, Launceton, Australia. vi + 55 pp. Link→
  • Pfeiffer, L. 1855. Descriptions of fifty-seven new species of Helicea, from Mr. Cuming’s collection. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 22 (1854): 286–298. Link→
  • Smith, B.I. 1992. Non-marine Mollusca. In: W.W.K. Houston (ed.), Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 8: x + 398 pp.
  • Smith, B.I. & Kershaw, R.C. 1979. Field guide to the non-marine molluscs of southeastern Australia. Australian National University Press, Canberra. x + 285 pp.
  • Smith, B.J., Reid, S. & Ponder W.F. 2002. Pulmonata. Australian Faunal Directory. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Available online→