Prof Fred Naggs

CV image
  • Biodiversity & Conservation Officer
  • Life Sciences department
  • Invertebrates
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road



My research interests can be summarised as seeking to record and understand what influences the distribution of snail species, how taxa can be recognised, how they came to be where they occur and how they are related to each other. Underlying these research topics is the value of snails as powerful research tools in evolutionary biology, my concern about loss of biological diversity globally, and how understanding snails can contribute to our understanding and conservation of biological diversity. I work closely with Dr Dinarzarde Raheem in exploring these topics.

Snails are ideal organisms for studying evolution. They exhibit a number of characteristics that make them valuable research subjects for understanding evolutionary processes across a wide range of time and geographical scales. Foremost of these is possession of a shell; the ease with which shells can be collected and stored greatly facilitates identification and study. Shells usually remain intact after death, allowing their presence to be detected even when living snails are not observed. In certain conditions shells can become fossilised. Their often very poor powers of dispersal make snails of particular interest for studying patterns of distribution over long periods of time. Other attributes include the large number of species; with over 20,000 described species known worldwide and many more yet to be described, snails are second only to arthropods in numbers. They are ecologically diverse, occurring in habitats ranging from temperate woodland and tropical rainforest to desert habitats and high-elevation alpine environments. Even the commonplace and familiar species from gardens are a source of wonderment if looked at in detail but my geographical focus is largely on the tropical snail centres of endemism and diversity in South and Southeast Asia where I collaborate with local researchers.

Land snails are phylogenetically diverse; they had a long history in the sea before several distantly related gastropod groups independently made the transition from aquatic to terrestrial environments. A global perspective is needed to understand relationships and I collaborate closely with Dr Christopher Wade’s research group at the Department of Genetics, University of Nottingham in utilising the powerful research tools provided by molecular biology. However, central to our work is an active series of field programmes and ecological studies, a sound basis in classical taxonomy based on comparative morphology, and use of the Museum’s superb reference collections. Knowledge from generations of malacologists is stored in the Museum’s collections and literature resources.

In addition to comparative morphology and use of molecular systematics in studying extant faunas we are increasingly looking at the fossil record. Worldwide, the fossil record for land snails is very patchy and poorly studied. The earliest records of land snails date from the Carboniferous, about 360-290 million years ago (Ma), but they do not show up again as fossils for about 100 Ma and rich fossil deposits are not known until about 40 Ma. I am embarking on a new collaborative study with Dr Richard Preece, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, looking at the Eocene snail fauna of Southern Britain, which, in addition to a recognisably current Northwest European snail fauna included what we currently consider to be tropical groups.

International Collaboration

International collaboration is central to my strategy of building international capacity in land snail research, ensuring that the Museum continues to be a key player in land snail research, that the Museum’s unique resources are used to their full potential and that it continues to build collections relevant for current and future research needs. International contacts are also developed to explore potential for wider collaboration and establishing international agreements on research collaboration and institutional cooperation. My international projects have received continuous support from Defra’s Darwin Initiative since 1999. Although our long standing links with South Asia are valued I am seeking links in Southeast Asia in particular where there is potential for developing mutually beneficial collaboration that will allow for an equitable share of research collections.

Sri Lanka
I have been involved with projects in Sri Lanka from1996 to date, where the current project is with The Wildlife Heritage Trust (WHT), Sri Lanka. We identify forest restoration and the establishment of forest corridors as a key long term strategy for species conservation and this project has been centred on a cloud forest restoration project, setting up a base line study of snail faunal composition for future monitoring of species recovery.

Current collaboration with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), India, is focussed on patterns of land snail diversity in the Western Ghats. I am currently working on a MoU with ATREE aimed at setting up long term research collaboration with the Museum across the whole of the natural sciences.

The project with the Centre for Biological Conservation (CBC), Nepal is a pioneering study because the land snails of Nepal have not been systematically studied before. Prem Budha is leading the project and I am jointly supervising Prem’s PhD with Professor Thierry Backeljau at the University of Antwerp

Collaboration with Professor Somsak Panha’s research group at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand has been pivotal to our collaborative projects in Southeast Asia since we launched my current Darwin Initiative project Developing land snail expertise in South and Southeast Asia at the launch workshop in Bangkok in May 1996. The projects in Laos with the National University of Laos, in Vietnam with Hanoi University of Science and in Malaysia with Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang have been run as satellite projects with Prof. Panha’s group.

From March 2009 we have a three year British Council funded project with Chris Wade’s group at Nottingham and Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. Following Professor Zulfigar Yasin, Dr Aileen Tan’s and three Malaysian research students visit to the Museum and the University of Nottingham in October 2009 I am working with Professor Yasin on a MoU between the Museum and the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang to develop collaboration in land snail research and research student supervision. In addition to specified snail projects we plan to develop the MoU to include general research collaboration with the Museum.

Following field visits to Vietnam in 2007 and 2008 and hosting a visit from Vietnamese colleagues in February 2009 I have arranged an umbrella MoU between the Museum, the Vietnam National Museum of Nature and Hoang Lien National Park, Vietnam, under which projects can be established across the whole range of Museum activities, in addition to our current work on Vietnamese land snails.


Refereed publications

Updated 30 January 2011

Sutcharit, C., Naggs, F., Wade, C.M., Fontanilla, I., and Panha, S. 2010.The new family Diapheridae, a new species of Diaphera Albers from Thailand, and the position of the Diapheridae within a molecular phylogeny of theStreptaxoidea (Pulmonata: Stylommatophora). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 160: 1–16.

Sutcharit, C., Naggs, F., Panha, S. 2010. A first record of the family Cerastidae in Thailand, with a description of a new species (Pulmonata: Orthurethra: Cerastidae). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 58: 251-258.

Pokryszkoi, B.M., Auffenberg, K., Hlaváč, J.C. and Naggs, F. 2010. Pupilloidea of Pakistan (Gastropoda: Pulmonata): Truncatellininae, Vertigininae, Gastrocoptinae, Pupillinae (in part). Annales Zoologici  59: 423 -458.

Raheem, D.C., Naggs, F., Chimonides, P.D.J., Preece, R.C. and Eggleton, P. (2009). Fragmentation and pre-existing species turnover determine land-snail assemblages of tropical rain forest. Journal of Biogeography 36: 1923-1938.

Raheem, D.C., Naggs F., Preece, R.C., Mapatuna, Y., Kariyawasam, L., and Eggleton, P. (2008). Structure and conservation of Sri Lankan land-snail assemblages in fragmented lowland rainforest and village home gardens. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 1019-1028.

Sutcharit, C., Naggs, F. and Panha, S. (2007). Systematic review of the land snail genus Neocepolis Pilsbry, 1891 (Pulmonata: Camaenidae) from North Vietnam. Journal of Natural History 41: 619-631.

Tumpeesuwan, C. Naggs, F. and Panha, S. (2007). A new genus and new species of Dyakiid snail (Pulmonata: Dyakiidae) from the Phu Phan Range, Northeastern Thailand. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 55: 363-369.

Wade, C.M., Hudelot, C., Davison, A., Naggs, F. and Mordan, P.B. (2007). Molecular phylogeny of the helicoid land snails (Pulmonata: Stylommatophora: Helicoidea), with special emphasis on the Camaenidae. Journal of Molluscan Studies 73: 411-415.

Kongim, B. Naggs, F. and Panha, S. (2006). Karyotypes of operculate land snails of the genus Cyclophorus (Prosobranchia: Cyclophoridae) in Thailand. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development 49: 1-8.

Raheem, D. and Naggs, F. (2006). The Sri Lankan endemic semi-slug Ratnadvipia (Limacoidea: Ariophantidae) and a new species from southwestern Sri Lanka. Systematics and Biodiversity 4: 99-126.

Wade, C.M., Mordan, P.B., and Naggs, F. 2006. Evolutionary relationships among the Pulmonata land snails and slugs (Pulmonata, Stylommatophora). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 87: 593-610.

Naggs, F. and Raheem, D. (2005). Sri Lankan snail diversity: faunal origins and future prospects. Records of the Western Australia Museum Supplement No. 68: 11-29

Naggs, F., Raheem, D. Ranawana, K. and Mapatuna, Y. (2005). The Darwin Initiative project on Sri Lankan land snails: patterns of diversity in Sri Lankan forests. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 12: 23-29.

Wiktor, A., Naggs, F. and Gupta, P.K. (1999). Turcomilax (Taulimax) oli sp. n. from the Kumaun Himalaya, India (Gastropoda: Pulmonata: Limacoidea). Malakologische Abhandlungen 19: 225-231.

Leng, M.J., Heaton, T.H.E., Lamb, H.F. and Naggs, F. (1998). Carbon and oxygen isotope variations within the shell of an African land snail (Limacolaria kambeui chudeaui Germain): a high resolution record of climate seasonality. The Holocene 8: 407-412.

Naggs, F. (1997). William Benson and the early study of land snails in British India and Ceylon. Archives of Natural History 24: 37-88.

Naggs, F. (1994). The reproductive anatomy of Paropeas achatinaceum and a new concept of Paropeas (Pulmonata:Achatinoidea) Journal of Molluscan Studies 60: 175-191.

Naggs, F. (1989). Gulella bicolor (Hutton) and its implications for the taxonomy of streptaxids. Journal of Conchology 33: 165-8.

Naggs, F. (1985). Some preliminary results of a morphometric multivariate-analysis of the Trichia (Pulmonata, Helicidae) species groups in Britain. Journal of Natural History 19: 1217-1230.

 Naggs, F. (1983). Perforatella, the helicid snail newly recorded in Britain and other genera commonly confused with Trichia. Journal of Conchology 31: 201-208.

Non-refereed articles

Budha, P.B., and Naggs F. (2008). The Giant African Land Snail Lissachatina fulica (Bowdich) in Nepal. The Malacologist 50: 19-21.

Naggs, F., Raheem, D and Budha, P. (2008). The carnivorous slug Testacella in Cambridgeshire. Nature in Cambridgeshire 50: 48-51

Naggs, F., Panha, S., and Raheem, D. (2006). Developing land snail expertise in South and Southeast Asia, a new Darwin Initiative project. The Natural History Journal of Chulalongkorn University 6: 43-46.

Naggs, F., Raheem, D. and Platts, E. (2005). Some observations on Sri Lankan land snails including the impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami on lowland snail faunas and its importance as a major fossilisation event. The Malacologist 45: 1, 3-7.

Naggs, F. (2004). Lack of information allows invasion of slug and snail pests in Sri Lanka. Case study 30 in Davies, H, King, N and Smith, R. (eds.) Taxonomy: targeting invasives. BioNET-INTERNATIONAL.

Naggs, F., Raheem, D, Mordan, P. Grimm, B. Ranawana, K. and Kumburegama, S. (2003). Ancient relicts and contemporary exotics: faunal change and survivorship in Sri Lanka’s snail fauna. Slugs and snails: agricultural, veterinary & environmental perspectives. British Crop Protection Council Symposium Proceedings 80: 103-108.

 Leng, M. and Naggs, F. (1999). Carbon and oxygen isotope variations within the shells of the Sri Lankan land snail Acavus: records of global patterns of air mass circulation. NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory Report Series, 145.

Land-snail guides

Raheem, D.C, Budha, P.B., Naggs, F. and Preece, R.C. In press. An illustrated guide to the land snails of Nepal. The Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Raheem, D.C., Aravind, N.A., Naggs, F. and Preece, R.C. (2009). An illustrated guide to the land snails of the Western Ghats of India. The Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Naggs, F. and Raheem, D. (2009). Sri Lankan Snails. Second revised Sinhala-language edition, The Natural History Museum, London, the Darwin Initiative, the World Bank and the Netherlands Government.

Raheem, D., and Naggs, F. (2006). An illustrated guide to the land snails of Sri Lankan natural forest and cultivated habitats. The Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Mordan, P. Naggs, F., Ranawana, K. Kumburegama, S. & Grimm, B. (2003). A guide to the pest and exotic gastropods of Sri Lanka. Department of Zoology, the Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Naggs, F. and Raheem, D. (2003). Sri Lankan Snails. Sinhala-language edition, The Natural History Museum, London, the Darwin Initiative, the World Bank and the Netherlands Government.

Naggs, F. and Raheem, D. (2003). Sri Lankan Snails. Tamil-language edition, The Natural History Museum, London, the Darwin Initiative, the World Bank and the Netherlands Government.

Naggs, F. and Raheem, D. (2002). Sri Lankan Snails. A popular colour guide. The Natural History Museum, London, UK.

Naggs, F. and Raheem, D. (2000). Land snail diversity in Sri Lanka. The Natural History Museum, London, UK. 216 pp.

Naggs, F. (1996). A coloured guide to the land and freshwater Mollusca of Sri Lanka. The Natural History Museum, London, UK.


Employment history

2010 - present    Visiting Professor 
                               Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Fred Naggs At Down House 1989

Fred outside Down House in 1989

 2003 - present   Biodiversity & 
                               Conservation Officer
                               Mollusca Research 
                               Natural History 
                               Museum (NHM), 

1989                     Acting Curator
                               Down House, 
                               Downe, Kent.

1974 - 2002        Curator of non-
                              marine Mollusca 
                              and Cephalopoda
                              Natural History 
                              Museum (NHM), London.

Higher education

1982                     MSc. University of Westminster