Interview with Francisco Welter-Schultes about European non-marine molluscs

The voluminous book European non-marine molluscs, a guide for species identification by Dr. Francisco Welter-Schultes was published in 28 September 2012. I appreciate that the book is in clearly understandable English language. I like numerous colour photos in the book. I also like the Quick identification guide. I think, that such comprehensive book about non-marine molluscs of the whole Europe was not published before. I think, that I will finally determine number of land snails shells from my vacations in southern Europe. I interviewed the author Dr. Francisco Welter-Schultes to get detailed informations about his magnum opus.


Dr. Francisco Welter-Schultes. Image credit: Francisco Welter-Schultes, CC-BY-3.0

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration for writing it?
Dr. Francisco Welter-Schultes:
Kerney & Cameron’s guides for nothern and central Europe were not available any more since around 2002, Parey publishers did not like to reprint the book, and they did not give us the copyright for the pictures, so that we could use them for a new book or an update. It was neither allowed to use the texts. Parey was later sold to Wiley, same problem. Vollrath Wiese and I were talking about this problem in his museum, Haus der Natur Cismar. Some day I said, do you know what? Why not taking photos of all the collection material you have here in your museum, and then publishing a new book on our own account? And not selling the rights neither to Parey nor to anyone in the future? There was no book on the southern European molluscs before, and often I needed one when others asked me to determine species. I wrote the book also for myself. If the book is useful for others, this is also because I wanted to produce something useful to facilitate my own work.


For whom is the book intended?
For experts and non-experts, also for students in universities, and people working in adminstrative offices all over the world having to do with nature protection.

How many species of non-marine molluscs inhabits Europe and how many of them is in the book?
Europe includes half Turkey, but not the Azores, this makes 2150 species and in addition about 400 hydrobids which are not contained in the book.

Are there any comparable books of European malacofauna or malacofauna of other continents?
Kerney & Cameron’s 1979/1983 guides for central and northern Europe, but unfortunately sold out since around 2002. Falkner 1990 (Weichtiere), also sold out. There are various nice books for European and Mediterranean local faunas, difficult to mention them all. And all of different quality, different scopes. Russia, Malta, Italy, Israel, Sweden, Britain, Hungary, also Schütt’s book on the Turkish molluscs has been useful for my work. Other continents I don’t know very much the literature.

Is molluscan fauna of Europe sufficiently known?
Much work still has to be done, this book is certainly not the last word.

How long had you been preparing it?
About 6 years of work, 2 years for the photos, 1.5 years for the maps and the rest for all the diagnoses and checking the original sources for the names.

Which institutions helped with realization of this book?
Haus der Natur Cismar provided for 90 % of the species the photos, and the photo equipment. The Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest, Tiroler Landesmuseen Innsbruck and Academy of Natural Sciences Philadephia helped with some photos of rare species. The book was lastly compiled in the Zoological Institute of Göttingen University, where about 80-90 % of the work was done.


What should I do if I find a mistake?
Just write me by e-mail, or submit a failure report at AnimalBase:

Is there any list of errata?
Yes there is, this one:


Will there be a second edition? May I add a photo of an unfigured snail for the next release?
We printed 2000 copies – more than 100 have already been sold after 3 weeks. So, maybe…?


There is a copyright note in the book that all copyrights for texts and pictures expire after 20 years. This means that the rights go into the public domain in 2032 (CC-BY licence). Which in turn means that the rights for the book cannot be sold to anyone (and most important: not to Parey and not to Wiley!), and if the community thinks that it is useful to print an updated second edition some day they can do this, and use all texts and pictures they need.


Photos are always welcome and they can be used for the next edition. They can also be uploaded to species homepages at


What would you recommend to authors who would like to write a similar work in other area or about other animals?
I do not know the other animal groups, every group is so different. There is little I can recommend in such a general note. These are mainly technical things. Take care in the printing process, don’t bind such a book too narrowly, the pages should remain open at every page, don’t save money in cheap binding, such a book should be stable (consider that students in libraries will use it), try to supervise the printing personally. And take the copyright issues serious, try to give a future to your work from the copyright point of view. Release the copyrights in the public domain as soon as the work is paid off.


What will be your future projects?
Going back to do some landsnail researches, revise some groups of small snails, relax a little. It was too much work in the past years. I am happy that I have finished it.


Thank you very much for your malacological work and for this interview.


Works mentined in the interview:

Welter-Schultes F. W. 2012: European non-marine molluscs, a guide for species identification. Planet Poster Editions, Göttingen, pp. A1-A3, 1-679, Q1-Q78. ISBN 978-3-933922-75-5

Kerney M. P. & Cameron R. A. D. 1979: A field guide to the landsnails of Britain and North-west Europe. pp. 288 pp., 24 pl.. London.

Kerney M. P., Cameron R. A. D. & Jungbluth, J. H. 1983. Die Landschnecken Nord- und Mitteleuropas. Ein Bestimmungsbuch für Biologen und Naturfreunde. – pp. 1-384, Taf. 1-24. Hamburg, Berlin. (Parey).

Falkner G. 1990: Binnenmollusken. – pp. 112-280. In: Fechter R. & Falkner G.: Weichtiere. Europäische Meeres- und Binnenmollusken. Steinbachs Naturführer 10.

Schütt H. 2001: Die türkischen Landschnecken 1758-2000. 3., vollständig revidierte und erweiterte Auflage.

Photo of the day (24): Causa holosericea

Causa holosericea (Studer, 1820) is a land snail from the family Helicidae. It has Alpine distribution.

It lives mainly in humid mixed forests and in coniferous forests, but also in decidous forests. It can be usually found under the fallen timber.


There are fine hairs on the periostracum that gives velvety feels to the shell. Some vernacular names are based on these velvety hairs.

The Czech name of Causa holosericea is aksamítka sametová.

Czech etymology:
aksamit = silk velvet,
aksamítka (from dialect from Moravian Wallachia) = velvety ribbon or low fur hat with velvety surface and with edging made of fur from an otter (this fur hat is also called vydrovka in Czech),
sametová = velvety.


The Slovak name of Causa holosericea is aksamietka zamatová.

Slovak etymology:
aksamit = silk velvet,
aksamietka (colloquial expression) = velvety ribbon,
zamatová = velvety.


This post is devoted to the Velvet Revolution, that started on 17th November 1989 at that time in Czechoslovakia.



Falkner G., Obrdlík P., Castella E. & Speight M. C. D. (2001). Shelled Gastropoda of Western Europe. München: Friedrich-Held-Gesellschaft, 267 pp.

(in Czech) Horsák M., Juřičková L., Beran L., Čejka T. & Dvořák L. 2010: Komentovaný seznam měkkýšů zjištěných ve volné přírodě České a Slovenské republiky. [Annotated list of mollusc species recorded outdoors in the Czech and Slovak Republics]. – Malacologica Bohemoslovaca, Suppl. 1: 1-37.

(in Slovak) Lisický M. J. (1991). Mollusca Slovenska [The Slovak molluscs]. VEDA vydavateľstvo Slovenskej akadémie vied, Bratislava, 344 pp., page 322.

(in Slovak) Országh I., Čejka T. & Országhová Z. 2012: Slovenské mená mäkkýšov (Mollusca). [Slovak Names of the Mollusca]. – Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave, 208 pp., ISBN 978-80-223-3170-8.

(in Slovak) “aksamiet” – význam slova., accessed 17 November 2012.

(in Czech) Slovník spisovné valaštiny. accessed 17 November 2012.