The native tree snails of the genera Liguus and Orthalicus were once common and colorful inhabitants of tropical hardwood hammock forests throughout South Florida. However, the populations of both genera have declined dramatically during the 20th century. Population decline in tree snails is largely attributed to habitat loss and environmental degradation, overcollection, and, more recently, predation by invasive species. Predation by invasive species is the most pressing and least understood of the threats to tree snail conservation. Several invasive species of snail-eating land planarians are rapidly spreading across tropical regions.
Florida's subtropical forests were once dripping with tree snails that National Geographic referred to as "living jewels." However, predation by invasive species, compounded by existing and historical pressures on tree snails, is continuing to accelerate the decline of tree snail populations and may lead to local extirpation. Through our intervention, we aim to preserve native snails' functional role in the nutrient cycle and foodweb of the local ecosystem and restore their status as iconic South Florida fauna.
For more information on this project, contact Cristina Gomes.