On this page I describe the various interests and projects that I am, or have been, working on.
I’ve long been interested in introduced mollusc species, and not just terrestrial ones. Growing up in the Vancouver area gave be the opportunity to explore Boundary Bay, a ‘hotbed’ of marine introductions. When my interest shifted more to the terrestrial molluscs, I soon found that a large number of the common introduced land snails were not yet ‘discovered’ in British Columbia (see Forsyth 1999 and subsequent papers).
I teamed up with Frederick Schueler and Aleta Karstad (Bishops Mills Natural History Centre) and worked on a field guide focusing on the introduced species. Identifying Land Snails and Slugs in Canada: Introduced Species and Native Genera was published by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in early 2010. It includes an introduction, keys to genera, diagnoses of all the genera, and species accounts of the exotic snails and slugs and is (or was) available from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Bibliography of terrestrial molluscs of Canada
A few years ago I began the Bibliography of Recent Terrestrial Molluscs of Canada project. Simply this was meant to put order into the scattered (mostly small) publications that deal with these organisms in Canada. Over time it has evolved into an online database of bibliographic citations that allows users to find references by province or territory and by species. As I acquire and inspect literature, I have been indexing more species records. Please contact me if you know of any literature that I have missed. This ties in with my next interest.
Catalogue of the terrestrial molluscs of Canada
The land snails and slugs of Canada have not been enumerated since the catalogue of La Rocque (1953). The earlier monograph of North American land molluscs (Pilsbry, 1939–1948), while still useful in many respects, is likewise out of date and of only limited use for providing an accurate picture of the terrestrial molluscan fauna of Canada. This fauna is not large; there are only about 200 species in total, with centres of diversity on the west coast (British Columbia) and in southwest Ontario. These areas are dominated by human development and agriculture. Indeed, populations of many species of land snails and slugs (including most range-edge species) are believed at-risk due to encroachment and fragmentation of habitat by agriculture and urbanization, introduction of invasive species, and industrial harvesting of forests. However, given the absence of a modern species list coupled with few taxonomic experts on the group in Canada, sporadic collecting efforts, and potentially incorrect and spurious identifications, the group has been long neglected in Canada and largely overlooked by efforts to conserve Canada‘s biodiversity. An authoritative list of these species in Canada is much needed by federal and provincial government conservation programs and will be useful for academia. Of special interest is the only partially curated collection donated to the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) from the estate of the late F. W. Grimm, who left a legacy of identifications (many cited in Grimm 1996) that have never been checked by other malacologists or properly reported and discussed.
New Brunswick Terrestrial Mollusc Taxonomy and Biogeography
With support from the New Brunswick Museum a project to survey the terrestrial molluscs of the province was begun in 2013.
British Columbia Terrestrial Mollusc Taxonomy and Biogeography
Fieldwork has covered most regions of the province (and also has included freshwater and marine habitats), including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley; Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands; the Okanagan; the Kootenays; the Northern Rockies, Peace River and Alaska Highway; the Cassiar Highway corridor and Atlin; the North Coast; Haida Gwaii; the Bulkley Valley and Hwy 16 corridor; and the Cariboo.
Terrestrial Mollusc Surveys in Banff and Waterton National Parks, and Cypress Hills and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Parks, Alberta
Surveys of terrestrial molluscs were made in 2008 and 2009, with emphasis on peripheral populations of Oreohelix mountainsnails.
Terrestrial molluscs of Ontario
I’ve been identifying the terrestrial mollusc material collected in Ontario by Michael Oldham, Frederick Schueler, and others.
Land snails on Efauna BC
Data, photos and species accounts have been contributed to the efauna.bc.ca project, and an introduction to land snails has been written. Interactive maps are now available online but species accounts remain only skeletal until I find time to add to them.
Sampling for terrestrial micro-molluscs
I’m interested in receiving donations of leaf litter to look for minute species of land snails. These tiny components of the fauna have historically been neglected in many parts of Canada. Their small size has meant that they have been overlooked by all but the most dedicated naturalists/malacologists. Samples should be between 1-2 L in volume. Please read this, and contact me for more information on how you can help.