Land snails help maintain healthy ecosystems, act as indicators of environmental integrity, and have distinctive evolutionary, ecological and cultural legacies that are important in understanding biodiversity. The Hawaiian Islands support a spectacular diversity of land snails (>750 species), comparable to the continental USA and Canada combined. Unfortunately they have not been comprehensively studied this century, and are vanishing fast; 90% may already be extinct. By documenting and identifying the remaining species, assessing their diversity and clarifying their taxonomy and relationships through phylogenetic analysis, this project will provide the basis for further study of their biology and conservation in a manner not possible before.
Two postdoctoral researchers, two graduate, five undergraduate, and multiple high school students will be trained in techniques ranging from systematics to field surveys and museum curation. Broad multidisciplinary research training will foster the next generation of conservation biologists and systematists while providing the means to conserve a vanishing fauna. Results will be widely available through peer-reviewed publications, public workshops, and electronic resources, providing data for a more profound understanding of evolution and biodiversity and giving conservationists the tools to develop appropriate management strategies.