09 February 2007

It's about time...

It's been more than 3 years now since I finished surveying the land snails of a hunting reserve, the Monocacy Natural Resources Area, along the Monocacy River in Frederick County, Maryland. The reserve, about 2 km X 1 km in extent, is a mostly wooded, hilly property watered by several creeks that drain into the Monocacy river that flows alongside the reserve.

The large river is the Monocacy. Map from TopoZone

MNRA was a nice place to survey with lots of snails and was rarely visited by the public, except during the hunting season in the winter when I, naturally, avoided the area. I had made so many trips there during the 2.5 years the survey took that towards the end I had become quite familiar with the topography; I knew where the all trails went and had located the easiest places to cross the creeks.

shelldeskI now have 3 big boxes full of snail shells and about 80 lots of alcohol specimens. I haven't had time to figure out the identities of the problematic taxa, especially, the ever-abundant "Glyphyalinia" specimens and the native philomycid slugs. So, the manuscript that I should have been writing, which I want to write, has been delayed. Every now and then, someone from the Maryland DNR, who gave me the permit to do the survey, contacts me to inquire about the results, which then reminds me that I should hurry up and publish what I found.

So a couple of weeks ago I went back to the 3 big boxes full of snail shells and started going thru them one bag at a time. I am confirming my previous identifications or identifying for the first time some of the specimens collected during my last trips. At the same time I am building a database on the computer. The next step will be the dissections.

Tomorrow I will post about one of the problematic species.

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