Molluscs

We are investigating the evolutionary roots of gastropods and bivalves, which make up the majority of the marine molluscs.

Molluscs are second only to arthropods in numbers of living animal species, and the marine families comprise 23 per cent of all named marine organisms.

We seek to understand how tectonic, climatic and ecological processes have influenced the great evolutionary diversity in marine molluscs since their origins over 500 million years ago.

We use morphological and molecular techniques to systematically study marine molluscs worldwide. We are focusing on gastropods and bivalves, which make up 80 and 14 per cent of all known mollusc species, respectively.

We work all over the world:
  • in the 'Coral Triangle' of shallow seas in the Indo-Australian Archipelago, investigating how the movement of tectonic plates 23 million years ago contributed to the huge diversity in marine life today
  • in the Antarctic and deep oceans, discovering new species and determining the diversification of the Solariellidae and Calliostomatidae families
  • in Africa's Rift Valley, studying the spectacular array of shell forms in Lake Tanganyika, comparable in their diversity to assemblages of marine snails
Mollusc evolution research

Below are some of our projects investigating different aspects of mollusc evolution.

  • Littoraria scabra on the trunk of a mangrove tree.
    Molluscs and mangroves

    Investigate the intertwining histories of mangrove forests and certain gastropods.

  • Drupella cornus snails feeding on staghorn coral in Hong Kong.
    Carnivorous gastropods

    Meet the carnivorous molluscs and learn how their food affects their evolution.

  • Rasta lamyi
    Bivalve research

    See how modern molecular techniques are revolutionising the classification of bivalves and unearthing surprising diversity in a specialised chemosynthetic group.

  • Littorinid snails
    Littorinid snails

    Find out how periwinkle penises are being used to answer deep evolutionary questions.

  • New species of deep-sea trochid
    Deep sea diversity

    Trace the evolution and diversification of deep-sea gastropods, and find out how they adapted to their environment.

  • Calliostoma zizyphinum
    The superfamily Trochoidea

    Explore the superfamily Trochoidea, whose evolutionary history is giving clues to the origins of marine biodiversity.

Dr David Reid
Dr David Reid

Merit Researcher and Leader of the Marine Mollusc Research Group. His research focuses on the systematics and evolution of shallow-water gastropods.

Suzanne Williams
Dr Suzanne Williams

Researcher focused on high biodiversity in tropical oceans.

Glossary

Gastropod
A class of molluscs commonly known as snails and slugs. They are second only to insects in number of named species, with as many as 80,000 members. They contain many familiar marine species, such as whelks and conches.

Bivalve
A class of molluscs that comprise two identical shell halves that enclose the body, joined by a hinge. They contain well-known species such as clams, oysters and mussels.

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