Atlante delle Conchiglie del Media Adriatico (Atlas of shells from the central Adriatic sea)

Submitted by Steve Wilkinson on Mon, 10/05/2010 00:12

T. Cossignani, V. Cossignani, A. Di Nisio & M. Passamonti. L'lnformatore Piceno Ed., Ancona. ISBN 88-86070-00-4, 1992. 40 pp, 417 colour plates

Review source

Originally reviewed by Ian Killeen in 1994.

Published in Journal of Conchology (1994), Vol.34

This very attractively produced hardback, A4 format book is actually an illustrated catalogue of the marine molluscs found in the Italian sector of the mid-Adriatic, rather than an atlas. It includes all littoral and sub-littoral species recorded between 42@ 53.45'N and 43@ 58'N although the reasons for this delineation are not clear. It does not cover the coast or territorial waters of the former Yugoslavia, although I presume that there will be little difference in the fauna.

The opening sixteen pages include an introduction in 5 languages followed by geographical and biotopic information in parallel columns of Italian and English. This is followed by a comprehensive list in systematic order of the 417 species recorded. The classification follows that of the Annotated checklist of Mediterranean marine mollusks by Sabelli, Gianuzzi-savelli & Bedulli, published in 1990. With a few exceptions the nomenclature of the 180 or so species common to both is similar to the recent Checklist of British marine Mollusca by Smith & Heppell (1991) and should therefore be familiar to British readers. The remainder of the work comprises colour plates of every species.

In the introduction, the authors state that this work is the result of several years research conducted by the Picena Association of Malacology under the direction ofVincenzo Cossignani, supplemented by information from local collectors and experts. The result is a lavishly illustrated, pictorial identification guide to the shelled molluscs. On this basis we must assume that it is essentially aimed at the shell collector, particularly as the nudibranchs are completely omitted. Although the work covers all the species found in the central Adriatic, the majority occur elsewhere in the Mediterranean and also in the northeast Atlantic and will therefore be of use to workers in those areas.

A major difference between this and other regional shell guides is the inclusion of a colour photograph of every species. Although a few specimens are out of focus or over-exposed, overall the quality and reproduction of the photography is extremely good and would facilitate identification of the majority of the fauna. It is certainly ambitious to attempt to photograph in colour such groups as the pyramidellids and rissoids, for example, and it is for some of these small species that the book does not work so well. The problem does not lie so much in the difficulty of photographing such small species, but rather that live-collected material has not been selected for the purpose. There are several plates where beach worn shells, often with sand grains still in the aperture, have been used. This is a pity because important diagnostic features such as apertural teeth or shell sculpture are obscured or lost.

I am delighted that the authors have included all the molluscan classes, so often the chitons and bivalves are not accorded the same treatment as the gastropods. I am also pleased to see that they have included comprehensive, modern nomenclature in Latin and have not been tempted to use either Italian or English common names. As a biogeographer I would like to have had distributional and ecological information for each species, although a simple ACFOR abundance scale is used. I would like to think that a regional distribution atlas would be a natural successor and hopefully this work may stimulate such a venture. At Lire 65,000 (c. £30) it accords with other specialised books with relatively short print runs. Regional faunal projects need support and anyone interested in the Mediterranean marine malacofauna would find this work of interest and use.