Like with many other plants and animals on this continent, most Australian native freshwater molluscs – 99% in fact – are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth. Many species are of conservation concern due to habitat loss or displacement by pests, whereas others are hosts of parasites that pose risks to animal and potentially human health. Of more than 400 species, well over 100 have very restricted ranges, with some found only in a single stream, cave system or desert spring.
We wanted to develop a resource to enable the identification of this unique and diverse fauna; one to assist with education, conservation and management, biosecurity screening, baseline ecological monitoring and a wide range of other applications. With this project now complete and freely available for everyone to use, we hope to have achieved this goal! Australian Freshwater Molluscs is now available HERE.
So, what does this online tool consist of? The first element is an interactive key which enables the identification of all named Australian species. This is a diagnostic tool where you can choose from a wealth of features that best match the species you wish to identify, gradually eliminating molluscs until you are (hopefully) left with your target species. You will also have the choice between the full key – accessing all its features and species – or you can select keys that best suit your preference, such as state or drainage system distribution, conservation- or pest status, or by classification. The second element is a comprehensive fact sheet database that also covers all described Australian species. These fact sheets provide photos and distribution maps as well as information on classification, biology and habitat, all with references provided. The database comes equipped with a sizable glossary and is fully integrated with the interactive key. Furthermore, the key and fact sheets also contain numerous invasive and ’high risk’ species that may pose various threats if introduced.
While the resource is optimised for PC use, we have also catered for users of mobile devices by making a responsive website that will hopefully make the experience as user-friendly as possible regardless of which device you choose. In that regard, we value any feedback, and will take all into account when updating the resource in the future.
So many people have helped with this project, including with funding, collection management, comprehensive reviews, and of course providing technical, scientific and moral support! The list of names would be far too long to include here, but please see the Acknowledgment section of the website for more.