Partula (gastropod)

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For other uses, see Partula (disambiguation).
Partula radiolata.png
Partula radiolata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Heterobranchia

clade Euthyneura
clade Panpulmonata
clade Eupulmonata
clade Stylommatophora
informal group Orthurethra

Superfamily: Partuloidea
Family: Partulidae
Genus: Partula
Férussac, 1821[1]

Partula is a genus of air-breathing tropical land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Partulidae.[2][3]

Many species of Partula are known under the general common names "Polynesian tree snail" and "Moorean viviparous tree snail".[4]

Partulids are spread over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2) of Pacific Ocean islands, from the Society Islands to New Guinea.

Once used as decorative items in Polynesian ceremonial wear and jewelry, these small snails (averaging about one-half to three-quarters of an inch in length) gained the attention of science when Dr. Henry Crampton (along with Yoshio Kondo) spent 50 years studying and cataloging partulids, detailing their remarkable array of morphological elements, ecological niches and behavioral aspects that illustrate adaptive radiation.[5] [6]

Black-and-white photo taken in July 1920 in Saipan, showing numerous Partula snails on the underside of a single leaf of Caladium


What happened to the partulids of the island of Tahiti is a demonstration of the possible deleterious effects of attempted biological control. After an infestation of the introduced giant African land snails (Achatina spp.), the carnivorous Florida rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) was introduced into Tahiti in an attempt to combat the African species.

The wolfsnail chose instead to hunt and eat members of the nearly 76 species of Partula that were endemic to Tahiti and the nearby islands, devouring all but 12 species in a decade. Several scientists recognized what was going on, and were able to save 12 species prior to their becoming extinct.

Today, the Zoological Society of London runs the Partula Programme Consortium which maintains a captive breeding program in the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species contains 15 critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild and 48 extinct Partula species.[7] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species version 2009.2 contains 13 critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild and 51 extinct Partula species.[8] The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species version 2015-4 contains 83 Partula species.[9]


Species within the genus Partula include: [6]


A cladogram showing the phylogenic relationships of the genus Partula:[10]






Partula species on Tahiti were usually found on the undersides of the leaves of Caladium and plantain, although in some valleys they were frequently found on Dracaena and turmeric.[11]


This article incorporates public domain text from the reference.[11]

  1. ^ Férussac A. É. d'A. de (June 1821). Journ. de Physique 92: 460; 1821, H.N. g. et p. Moll., Tabl. Limaçons, 23.
  2. ^ Myers, P.; Espinosa, R.; Parr, C. S.; Jones, T.; Hammond, G. S. & Dewey, T. A. (2006). The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed at
  3. ^ ITIS Standard Report Page: Partulidae
  4. ^ Searching for "Partula". In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. <>. Downloaded on 14 September 2010.
  5. ^ Jung, Younghun, Taehwan Lee, Burch J. B. & Diarmaid Ó Foighil. (2005) "Historical phylogeny of Tahitian Partula". Proc. Joint Conference - American Malacological Society and Western Society of Malacologists.
  6. ^ a b Gerlach, J. (2016) Icons of Evolution - Pacific island tree snails, family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press, Cambridge
  7. ^ IUCN (2008). 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 23 December 2008.
  8. ^ IUCN (2009). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <>. Downloaded on 14 November 2009.
  9. ^ IUCN (2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. <>. Downloaded on 07 June 2016.
  10. ^ Lee, T.; Burch, J. B.; Coote, T.; Pearce-Kelly, P.; Hickman, C.; Meyer, J. Y.; ó Foighil, D. (2009). "Moorean tree snail survival revisited: A multi-island genealogical perspective". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9: 204. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-204. PMC 3087522Freely accessible. PMID 19686604. 
  11. ^ a b Mayer A. G. (January 1902). "Some species of Partula from Tahiti. A study in variation". Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy XXVI(2), Cambridge, U.S.A.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Partula evolution, diversity and conservation Partula Pages