Museum Blog

Everglades Land Snails - Zoology Object (12 August 2011)

Posted 8/12/2011 12:08 AM by John Demboski | Comments

Land snails are some of the most brilliantly colored and patterned terrestrial gastropod mollusks, especially those found in the tropics.  The Florida Everglades is the home to the boldly striped Liguus fasciatus which have diversified into almost 60 color forms.  Destruction of the snail's habitat and zealous collection of the beautiful shells placed the species in jeopardy.  Since the mid-1980's, it is illegal to collect any Liguus shells in Florida.  Everglades National Park has become the last refuge of these beautiful snails.

One of the many conservationists and collectors of Liguus shells was Erwin Winte, the first Everglades Park ranger.  Erwin had extensive knowledge of the Liguus forms and the dangers to their habitat.  Along with other conservationists, he was instrumental in reintroducing some of the most unusual and rare snails back into the Everglades in order to preserve the species.  His work was recognized in 1954 when a new color form was named for him - Liguus fasciatus (f) wintei.

To our delight, in 2003, Ray Starkey offered the Museum a collection of land snails to the Zoology Department.  The shells were given to Ray by his uncle Erwin Winte.  Among the 9 color forms was one named for Erwin - Liguus fasciatus (f) wintei and one color form that has yet to be named.

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