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.
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, devouring all but about 5 species in a decade. Several scientists recognized what was going on, and were able to save several species prior to their becoming extinct.
The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species contains 15 critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild and 48 extinct Partula species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species version 2009.2 contains 13 critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild and 51 extinct Partula species.
Species within the genus Partula include:
This article incorporates public domain text from the reference .
- Férussac A. É. d'A. de (June 1821). Journ. de Physique 92: 460; 1821, H.N. g. et p. Moll., Tabl. Limaçons, 23.
- Myers P., EspinosaR., Parr C. S., Jones T., Hammond G. S. & DeweyT. A. (2006). The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed at http://animaldiversity.org.
- ITIS Standard Report Page: Partulidae
- Searching for "Partula". In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 14 September 2010.
- 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.
- IUCN (2008). 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 December 2008.
- IUCN (2009). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 14 November 2009.
- 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 3087522. PMID 19686604. //www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=3087522.
- 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.
- Crampton H. E. (1916). Studies on the variation, distribution and evolution of the genus Partula. The species inhabiting Tahiti. Carnegie Institution of Washington, 228: 1-311.
- Crampton H. E. (1925). Studies on the variation, distribution and evolution of the genus Partula. The species of the Mariana Islands, Guam and Saipan. Carnegie Institution of Washington, 228a: 1-116.
- Crampton H. E. (1932). Studies on the variation, distribution and evolution of the genus Partula. The species inhabiting Moorea. Carnegie Institution of Washington, 410: 1-335.
- Lee, T.; Burch, J. B.; Jung, Y.; Coote, T.; Pearce-Kelly, P.; ó Foighil, D. (2007). "Tahitian tree snail mitochondrial clades survived recent mass extirpation". Current Biology 17 (13): R502–R503. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.006. PMID 17610827.