Tiziano and Vincenzo Cossignani, published by L'lnformatore Piceno, Ancona, 1995 pp 1-208, ISBN 88-86070-06-3. Obtainable from Mostra Mondiale Malacologia, Via Adriatica Nord, 240-63012 Cupra Marittima, Italy
Originally reviewed by David Long in 1995.
Published in Journal of Conchology (1995), Vol.35
Here is a very welcome guide (A4 size) to the shells of the non-marine molluscs of Italy. It is valuable as a gap filler because there is nothing else comparable for Italy or any other southern European country. The book consists of a list of species and subspecies, in taxonomic order, followed by colour plates, mostly photographs, in the same order. These are accompanied by a brief note of the habitat in which each taxon is found, a small inset map showing in which part of Italy it.occurs, and an indication of its size range. Localities and dimensions under photographs refer to the shell or shells in the photograph. Appendices cover a reissue of Carlo Alzona's catalogue of "forms" of Italian terrestrial and freshwater molluscs of 1971 (1961 on page 163 is presumably a "typo.", a listing of the taxa covered by this book sorted by region of Italy, some examples of molluscan habitats, a bibliography, and information in German on the South Tyrol. These are followed by an index.
Because of its size, the book would not be suitable as a field guide but it will be invaluable for anyone with mollusc shells from Italy or its surroundings as it contains information not readily available elsewhere. Its strengths lie in the concisely presented data and in its being fully illustrated by colour photographs, supplemented by line drawings from other publications where these are helpful to show smaller species.
There are some weaknesses. Photographs of smaller species tend to be slightly out of focus. Further, because it is concerned with shells, it will not suffice to identify slugs or families where the external appearance or anatomy of the animal is important; this drawback is in part balanced by footnotes pointing out problem areas. Interiors of bivalves are not generally shown. Users of this book should be vectored towards an answer in these cases but should also consult other literature for, for example, Vertiginidae, Virtrinidae, Zonitidae and Sphaeriidae. There also appear to be one or two errors; I am not certain of the shells shown as Anisus verticulus on page 53 (they look like part- grown A. vortex}; on page 67 the photograph captioned Vertigo substriata shows V. antivertigo and I am not confident of naming the shell called Vertigo alpestris.
Taxonomic treatment is broadly similar to that given in guides to NW Europe, except for a tendency to illustrate subspecies and forms in families where these have been distinguished in the past and where this usage is helpful. In sum, I recommend this book to all interested in European and Mediterranean non-marine molluscs. I hope that it sells enough to justify a second edition which could make good the few weaknesses pointed out above. I am sure that it will provide an impetus to Italian malacologists and visitors to Italy to gather further information on the status and distribution of non-marine molluscs there.