Molluscs of St. Eustatius
Molluscs are one of the largest phyla in the animal kingdom. They make up a large part of marine faunas worldwide (Appeltans et al. 2012), and have a considerable presence on land and in freshwater. During the Statia Marine Expedition 2015, we hoped to contribute significantly to expanding the understanding of the molluscan fauna of the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius. The main goal of the present research was to produce an inventory of the fauna, with the primary emphasis being marine molluscs. Another major goal of the investigation was obtaining DNA subsamples of soft tissue from live individuals of a number of marine mollusc species. This will enable subsequent molecular analysis and DNA barcoding.
The malacofauna of St. Eustatius had been investigated to some extent before the 2015 expedition. Coomans (1958) listed 40 marine gastropods and Kaas (1972) reported on eight polyplacophorans based on material collected by Wagenaar Hummelinck in 1949 (Wagenaar Hummelinck 1977). Hewitt (2015) recorded 183 marine mollusc species based on her own collections and those of others from 2000 to 2011. In addition, 15 species of terrestrial gastropods were reported by Vernhout (1914), Haas (1960, 1962), Hovestadt (1980), and Van der Valk (1987).
In the 2015 survey, we attempted to find as many mollusc species as possible from each field station. The voucher material (marine and non-marine) consists of dry specimens (shells) and alcohol- preserved material. This material will be deposited in the reference collection of Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden.
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