20 April 2010

A book for the snails and slugs of Canada

Those who are interested in the terrestrial gastropods of Canada now have a book at their disposal: Identifying Land Snails and Slugs in Canada – Introduced Species and Native Genera. This recently released work is a joint effort by F. Wayne Grimm (deceased), Robert G. Forsyth, Frederick W. Schueler and Aleta Karstad. Free copies may be ordered from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The 166-page paperback book includes the descriptions of all the native and the introduced terrestrial gastropod genera of Canada as well as the descriptions of all the introduced species. Good photographs or drawings of all of the introduced species and many of the natives are also provided. Aleta Karstad's watercolor drawings of the introduced slugs are especially noteworthy. Many of them can easily pass for photographs.

The book opens with several sections giving general information on terrestrial gastropod biology and collecting and studying techniques that would be useful for newcomers and closes with an illustrated glossary and a list of references.

My criticisms are minor and stem from my personal biases and needs. I dislike the silly common names for gastropods that have been circulating out there and would rather have nothing to do with them. But unfortunately they were used in this book. I also wish more detailed locality information for some of the introduced species had been given. For example, the coordinates of the only location in Canada where Succinella oblonga has been found would be of more help than the unelaborated "along Hwy 12 north of Brooklin, Durham Regional Municipality, Ontario". The latter is reminiscent of the locality data of Wayne Grimm from the 1950s when nothing better was expected.

I congratulate the authors for this otherwise well-prepared and quite useful book. It will undoubtedly be the standard reference for the Canadian snails and slugs for many years to come. I will certainly take it with me the next time I am going to Canada.


fred schueler said...

Canada: Ontario: Durham County: Hwy12,between 8780&8710, presumed Hahn residence, 5.6kmN Brooklin as Hwy7/12 / 44.00399N 78.96424W / 25 Aug 2008 / Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad Schueler, Judy Courteau, Robert Forsyth field#: 2008/205/ba

In order to preserve the popularized character of the book, we decided to not give precise localities, but to save them for formal publication of the records, which in this case depend on collecting living material.

Whatever is being done behind the chainlink fence and growlly Dogs at Sylvia Hahn's former residence, it seems that the present owners would prefer to restrict malacologists to the roadside ditch, and we were lucky to find some shells.


Fred, thanks for this. Maybe one day I will go there.

Kathie Hodge said...

Thanks for the heads up on this... just in time for slug season! And the price can't be beat.

gillesarbour said...

A thousand thanks for this! I received both a French copy and an English copy of the guide. Today I made my first attempt in identifying one slug and the shell of 3 similar snails. I am not a scientist but a simple nature lover who likes to learn. I posted my findings here (in French): http://gillesarbour.wordpress.com/2010/05/30/neohelix-albolabris-et-arion-subfuscus/

Michal said...

What is an exact URL for download?