Die Landschnecken Nord- und Mitteleuropas

Submitted by Steve Wilkinson on Mon, 10/05/2010 23:27

M. P. Kerney, R. A. D. Cameron & J. H.Jungbluth. Verlag Paul Parey, Hamburg/Berlin, 384 pp., 24 colour plates, numerous text-figures, 368 distribution maps. @ISBN 3-490- 17918-8.

Review source

Originally reviewed by A.C. van Bruggen in 1984.

Published in Journal of Conchology (1984), Vol.31

Kerney & Cameron's excellent field guide (1979) has been widely used on the continent. Foreign editions seemed to be a matter of time and market. Already in 1980 Dr E. Gittenberger's Dutch version was published, which also proved to be a success among a section of the western European malacological community. The Dutch book exhibits some additional features, viz., a well illustrated chapter on the snails of the mediterranean parts of France (specially composed by Kerney for this edition) and a nine page key by Gittenberger. The distribution maps of the British Isles were not incorporated. Dr.J. H.Jungbluth is responsible for the German adaptation (1983) of the field guide, which so far is undoubtedly the best available. It is also the bulkiest and, with a price of between £14 and £15, certainly the most expensive version. In the reviewer's opinion it is definitely worth it. The original work has 288 closely printed pages, Gittenberger's edition contains 310 less closely printed pages, and the German version numbers no less than 384 closely printed pages.

What does make the German book so valuable? First of all, it covers a much larger area than the two earlier editions. The land snails of Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland have been incorporated throughout the text, i.e. either as species not treated in the earlier editions or in the form of additional distribution data. Secondly, this has necessitated the addition of 92 line drawings of prime quality. Finally, the French mediterranean chapter by Kerney of the Dutch edition is also included. The result of the above alterations/additions is that the European distribution maps (a total of 368 against 276 in the original book) have all been emended or newly supplied; moreover, a really contrasting colour has been used this time, adding to the value of the maps;

Gordon Riley's colour plates are as good as ever. The additional line drawings have been made by two staff artists of the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historic, Leiden, Ms. Inge van Noortwijk and Wim Gertenaar. This has been done under the supervision of the curator of molluscs of the Leiden museum, Dr E. Gittenberger, who has also supplied a lot of new data. The new figures may be recognized by the fact that the inside of the aperture usually is uniformly black (see e.g. on pp. 126-127, the figures of Vallonia alamannica are new). The work of these highly skilled professional artists is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It is therefore to be regretted that on p. 71 the right- hand figure of Acicula callostoma has been reversed; this regularly, but fortunately rarely, occurs in the malacological literature, and represents the kind ofgastropod to be eradicated.

Unfortunately Gittenberger's concise but valuable key has been replaced by a selection of the most common types of shells and slugs depicted on the end-papers, so that the families may be recognized. However, the beginner's best bet is assiduously to page through the figures and plates in order to identify his specimens with some confidence. Other innovations are German common names for many species (should not everyone rather start by memorizing the scientific names which normally are or should be universally applicable?) and a glossary of technical terms. The reviewer was very pleased to see the recommended comma inserted between the name of the author and the year of description of the scientific name. This is unusual for a German author and, indeed, most commendable.

There are no local German distribution maps; the book has been written for a German readership which covers at least four nations.

With every foreign edition Kerney & Cameron is getting bigger and better; however, we should never forget that the real pioneering work was done by the people who created the book in the first place. Of course, taxonomic opinions are bound to change at times in details and not everybody will agree with the decisions taken. Nevertheless, Jungbluth's version of Kerney & Cameron is now the best and most complete book available to anyone working with or interested in western, northern and central European land snails. Even if you do not read German, you should buy it for its illustrations and distribution maps. The reviewer considers this book one of the best available in its field.