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iLabs: Snail Babies Continue — Some Basic Embryo Info

July 24, 2012

In researching the questions people ask, I’ve come across some good resources and websites. So I thought I’d have a post with just some overall reference information.

A great website, is the Freshwater Mollusks Conservation Society website. It is full of good info — photos, videos, databases, links, bibliographies, maps, and more.  It also has a list of some quality links.

One in particular is the Fresh Water Gastropods of North America Project   (FWGNA) site.  The FWGNA Project site describes their mission as a “long-term, collaborative effort to inventory and monograph all 15 families of freshwater snails inhabiting the continent north of Mexico.”  It is a terrific site and the data is listed by state. The North Carolina page has among other things a dichotomous key for snails.

A dichotomous key is a way to identify an organism by evaluating a series of “either/or” characteristics and based on the answers you are led to the identity.  The Wikibooks entry for dichotomous key is pretty comprehensive.  Yahoo’s entry is a short simple answer.  However, the best one I found is by Dianne Smithwick from the  North Heights Alternative School, which is called “What in the World is a Dichotomous Key?” It is fun, clear, and has  good examples.

Getting back to the Freshwater Mollusks Conservation Society website, it also has a link to the Field Guide to the Freshwater Snails of Florida,  which would give you an idea of how one goes about making identifications from a field guide.

In terms of hard-copy field guides, we have two we are using in the Micro World Lab:

The Field Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, James H. Thorp, D. Christopher Rogers, editors. Academic Press.

A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, J. Reese Voshell, Jr., author, and Amy Bartlett Wright, illustrator, McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company.

For a good general overview of one type of snail embryo development check out:

The Apple Snail Website: Embryology

And last but not least, the fun one:

The following two links are a fun read as well as  informative. The people started out dismayed by the “snail problem” in their aquarium, only to get hooked by watching the egg development, to the point they forgot about trying to get rid of the snails and instead, got into recording their development! Enjoy!

The Development of Physella, a Freshwater Snail, Part 1

The Development of Physella, a Freshwater Snail, Part 2

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