09 October 2005

Where have all the meadows gone?

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The purpose of our visit to the land snail collection of the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History last Friday was to look for unpublished records. Tim was interested in records from Pennsylvania and New York and I was looking for records from northern Maryland, especially from the vicinity of D.C. (and also from Turkey). Such records not only help us create more complete distribution maps of the recorded species, but they also give us an idea of what the area may have looked like when the collection was made.

The picture above is that of a collection of Gastrocopta tappaniana made on May 1, 1904, in an "open meadow" 200 yards west of Chevy Chase Circle in Maryland. The green dot I put on the current map of the area below shows the approximate location of the meadow 100 years ago. The meadow and the snails are long gone.

chevychase

Incidentally, the collector was presumably Paul Bartsch (1871-1960), one of the former curators of mollusks at the Smithsonian.


1 comment:

Amy Stewart said...

This is all so brilliant and amazing. Are there no methods to preserve the snail bodies themselves? Rubbing alcohol? Plaster casts? Or do only the shells remain?

I'd love to see more pictures from the collection. I hear they've got some worms, too.