From 18th to 22nd August The Snails met again in Johnsbach as always with a dense and diverse program. In the centre of our presentations were the projects ABOL and Montenegrina. ABOL is an initiative dedicated to the DNA barcoding of all species living in Austria. In July 2014 the three years kick-off phase of ABOL started, which is financed by the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. The ABOL project manager Nikola Szucsich, who is on duty to establish and organize the structure of the planned comprehensive main project, gave an introducing talk about ABOL. One of the four ABOL pilot projects is devoted to the barcoding of Austrian molluscs. Anita Eschner and Luise Kruckenhauser (both NHM Vienna) are leading this project.
Our recently launched project on Montenegrina (funded by the Austrian Science Fund: FWF P 26581-B25) was presented by Zoltan Feher. The distribution range of this land snail genus is located outside Austria, but the scientific questions fit perfect into the field of activity of the working group Alpine land snails, which all can be subsumed under biodiversity research. The same applies to the monitoring and field mapping projects Land snails of the biosphere reserve Wienerwald and Helicopsis striatain Austria as well as for the report on snail diversity of the National Park Kalkalpen. From our preceding FWF project on genetic diversity and phylogeography of selected Alpine land snails we presented new results on differentiation of the two Trochulus oreinos subspecies and on previous work on Pyramidula pusilla, Clausilia dubia, Cylindrus obtusus and the subfamily Ariantinae.
All our systematic / taxonomic investigations are intimately connected with field collecting and scientific collections, the same is true for ABOL. In this context, the talks about legal foundations of collecting of animals as well as the suitability of material from scientific collections for DNA analyses were interesting contributions. As guest stars the entomologists presented us interesting facts about barcoding of pill millipedes. The talks on the systematic revision of the Asian land snail family Plectopylidae and on the early evolution of pulmonates broadened the range of topics.
An absolute highlight was the Snails Evening which we organized this year for the first time. We presented living snails, popular scientific talks and the first Snail Puppet Theater to the public audience, activities that were acknowledged even by the print media
Despite unstable and changing weather we performed several successful excursions and collected snails and insects in and around the National Park Gesäuse. We would like to thank the management of the National Park Gesäuse for mental, organizational and financial support and the Friends of the Natural History Museum Vienna for financial support. Finally, we are grateful to all the participants for being there, for the interesting discussions and the good mood!
Abstracts, Participants, Program were published here: