Caring for metropolitan non-marine molluscs

Snails, freshwater shellfish, snails … The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is stocking continental mollusks in mainland France for the first time, many of which are unique, but are threatened by urbanization and agriculture.

Attention deficit

The IUCN studied freshwater mussels (mussels), freshwater gastropods and terrestrial gastropods (snails, slugs) to establish the Red List of Endangered Species. “A list that includes all mollusks shows that more than 11% of them are endangered. A total of two species have already disappeared, 79 are endangered and 32 others are almost endangered“, adds the IUCN in the press kit.”Some of these species are good indicators of water quality and good condition of wetlands, forests or grasslands.“, adds IUCN.

These species suffered from attention deficit“, points out Florian Kirchner, of IUCN, for AFP. Metropolitan France is nonetheless very rich, with an estimated 691 species of continental mollusks, including 33 freshwater mussels, 251 freshwater gastropods and 407 terrestrial gastropods.”One third of continental molluscs are endemic, which is exceptional for metropolitan France“, continues Florian Kirchner.”We have a strong responsibility, because only the public authorities and associations of our country can preserve them.“These species are so fragile because they can’t move far or fast in search of new habitat and”they are just under pressure“says Florian Kirchner.

Risky water withdrawal

The situation is particularly bad for freshwater mussels, of which 30% are endangered, followed by freshwater gastropods (15%) and terrestrial gastropods (8%). “Aquatic shells have different threats“, with”the development of rivers, dams that make habitats unsuitable for these species“, plus pollution of agricultural and urban waters, explains Florian Kirchner. This is the case, for example, for large shellfish in critical danger of extinction. Terrestrial gastropods, such as the shaggy helicon, are threatened by urbanization, roads, quarries, others by “inappropriate logging affecting their living environment“and some more by overgrazing meadows, IUCN says. Forest species, like the false velutee of cork oaks, are.”sensitive to fires that often increase over the years“Freshwater gastropods suffer damage to their habitats, such as river development and water withdrawal for agricultural irrigation.”when not explained“by leaving water levels too low in rivers or groundwater,” Florian Kirchner notes. The effects of climate change are also beginning to tend to species living at altitude or by the sea.

Preserve natural habitats

Some of these animals also have to deal with competition from species that have been introduced by humans and that have become invasive. Snails like the caragouille dune are finally threatened “pressure from tourist facilities or (from) trampling due to overcrowding of certain localities“The real situation could be worse, knowing that.”more than 40% of species are still poorly documented“and are categorized as” insufficient data. “In freshwater gastropods, 62% of species are affected by this lack of knowledge, while almost 65% of the group’s species are endemic and represent very important conservation issues.“, specifies the IUCN. Conservation programs for these animals are still the exception.”The conservation of these species in the future depends primarily on improving knowledge and strengthening the conservation of their natural habitats.“, emphasizes IUCN.

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