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European Red List of Non-Marine Molluscs

European Red List of Non-Marine Molluscs

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Published by Uğur Özkan

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Published by: Uğur Özkan on Dec 21, 2011
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12/13/2012

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With almost half (44%) of all species assessed as
threatened with extinction, European freshwater molluscs
are by far the most threatened group assessed to date in
Europe, highlighting the worrying situation of European
freshwater ecosystems. Furthermore, one out of fve
species (20%) of the assessed terrestrial molluscs are also
confronted with a high level of threat. In some cases, the
point of no return has been reached: at least eight species
are already Extinct and an additional 35 are Critically
Endangered, Possibly Extinct.

More than 90% of the European molluscs are endemic,
which means that they don’t occur anywhere else in
the world and represent Europe’s natural heritage. Te
highest diversity, endemism and threat level are found
in the Mediterranean, from the Iberian Peninsula to the
Balkans and in the various island groups, highlighting
the richness, but also the vulnerability of these areas. Te
ancient lakes in the Balkans and the Atlantic and Greek
island groups deserve a special mention in that regard.

Te main threat to European non-marine molluscs
is the loss and degradation of suitable habitat. For the
freshwater species, this is due to water pollution (nitrates
and other chemicals from agricultural sources and poor
domestic sewage management) and the over-abstraction
of water from springs and groundwater sources, while
for terrestrial molluscs, the major problems are related
to agricultural improvements, encroaching urbanisation,
deforestation, tourism and recreation activities.

Apart from their value as Europe’s natural heritage, non-
marine molluscs provide important ecosystems services
that are often underestimated, such as nutrient recycling,
water cleaning, food sources, environmental indicators,
etc.

To revert their dramatic situation, urgent conservation
measures are needed:

National and European legislation (including the

EU Habitat Directive, the EU Water Framework
directive and the EU Common Agricultural Policy)
should be fully implemented and revised to include

the threatened species identifed during this project,
especially where cross-boundary management
strategies would be benefcial for species-specifc
conservation actions.
Key sites, such as the ancient lakes in the Balkans,

underground systems and areas of high threatened
diversity should be protected and the management of
these habitats and of existing protected areas should
take into consideration the specifc requirement of
molluscs.
Water management should be improved, especially

regarding the over-exploitation of springs and
groundwater and the pollution resulting from
agriculture and urbanization.
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) should be

conducted for any dam/drainage projects to assess the
impact and mitigation measures needed for native
mollusc species.
Species/Habitat Action Plans should be drawn for the

most threatened species, and for the most threatened
ones captive breeding programmes might need to be
set in place.
Invasive species should be controlled to reduce their

impact on the native fauna.
Te importance and role of molluscs, and of

invertebrates in general, should be promoted through
awareness raising campaign.
Monitoring of the population size, distribution and

trend (possibly through the monitoring of the habitat
as a proxy) should be undertaken for the threatened
and Data Defcient species
Further taxonomic research is needed to clarify the

exact taxonomic status of the European molluscan
fauna

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