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Land snail Helix pomatia

Terrestrial molluscs or land molluscs (mollusks) are ecological group that includes all molluscs that lives on land in contrast to freshwater and marine molluscs.



This group includes land snails and land slugs, however loss of the shell has taken place many times in different groups that are not evolutionarily closely related, and in specialized malacological literature, land snails and slugs are most often treated together as one group.[1][2]

All terrestrial molluscs belongs to the class Gastropoda, however colonization of the land took place several times during the evolutionary past, and as a result terrestrial molluscs are classified in several different, often not closely related, gastropod taxa.[1]

Terrestrial mollusks comprise about 35 thousand species, most of which belong to the order (in some sources suborder or infraorder) Stylommatophora.

Terrestrial molluscs occur across almost the whole planet except Antarctica and some islands. They inhabit a wide range of ecosystems, from deserts and tundras to rainforests.

In terms of survival, this group of species is currently one of the most threatened; there are more known species extinctions of terrestrial molluscs than in any other group of organisms.[3]

Taxonomic diversityEdit

Operculate land snail Pomatias elegans

According to an estimate from Cameron,[3] of the 409 existing gastropod families there are 119 families which include terrestrial molluscs. Among these families, 104 are Stylommatophora, 7 are terrestrial pulmonates other than stylommatophorans, and 8 are operculates (formerly "prosobranchs", molluscs with an operculum, a group that primarily consists of marine snails).



Best known terrestrial malacologistsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Barker G. M. (ed.) The biology of terrestrial molluscs. CABI Publishing, 2001, 558 pp. ISBN 0-85199-318-4.
  2. ^ Barker G. M. (ed.) Natural enemies of terrestrial molluscs. CABI Publishing, 2004, 644 pp. ISBN 0-85199-319-2.
  3. ^ a b Cameron R. Slugs and snails. HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2016, 508 pp. ISBN 978-0-00-711301-9.

Most important literatureEdit