Daniel Oscar Forcelli 2000. Vazquez Mazzini Editores (Concepcion Arenal 4864 (1427), Buenos Aires, Argentina) 200pp. ISBN 987-9132-01-7
Originally reviewed by Kevin Brown in 2002.
Published in Journal of Conchology (2002), Vol.37
The Molluscan faunas of tropical South America have been well documented in popular literature, A.M. Keen's Seashells of tropical Western America and E.C. Rios's Seashells of Brazil are key works in any Molluscan library. However there has long been a need for a book covering those species from the colder more southerly part of the continent, this book now fills that need.
Covering, an area roughly between Concepcion in Chile and the Valdez Peninsula in Argentina, and including the Falkland Islands (here referred to as Islas Malvinas) this book gives detailed coverage of 627 species of mollusc. Along with the gastropods and bivalves which you would expect the book includes species of scaphopod, chiton, cephalopod and even 9 species of Aplacophora, while the gastropods include the often ignored nudibranchs making the coverage truly comprehensive.
For each species the author gives full scientific names followed by details of synonyms, shell size, the broad distribution within the Magellanic region and an indication of whether the species is endemic, a brief description, and in many cases details of habitat and rarity. Each species is individually illustrated immediately after the description. The majority of species are shown in full colour photographs, although some black and white photographs, microphotographs and line drawings, the latter often taken from original descriptions, have been used especially for the smaller species. The careful use of different methods of illustration has ensured maximum clarity and ease of identification. A number of the shells illustrated are type specimens and a few supplementary pictures illustrating living molluscs have also been included. As well as the 627 species covered in detail the text also refers to a number of additional species cited from the Magellanic region in literature but which have not been covered here in depth. Often helpful comments are given relating to these additional species for example we are informed that Lissarca notocardensis Melville and Standon, 1914 cited from the region is an Antarctic species, while Pareuthria scalaris (Watson, 1882) and P. venustula Powell, 1951 cited from the region may ultimately prove to be synonyms of P. ringei (Strebel, 1905). Altogether some 170 extra species are treated in these notes.
Introductory sections of the book include discussions on the region's geography, Molluscan Biology, Systematics and Ecology, Molluscs and Men and Molluscs of Economic Importance. There is also a helpful glossary.
Inevitably there are a few errors, however these are relatively minor and few in, number. The genus Balcis is referred to as Balsis, and on p 74 Crepidula aff. onix should surely be onyx. A more serious criticism refers to the index. This is generally good, but fails to include any of the synonyms referred to in the text. Thus while Buccinulum meridionalis (E.A. Smith, 1881) is fully indexed under both genus and specific name, Chauvetia euthrioides (Melville & Standon, 1898) which the author quotes as a synonym of B. meridionalis is not indexed either by genus or specific name. Anyone with a specimen labelled C. euthrioides will fail to find the appropriate reference using this index.
I also feel that the failure to provide any bibliographical references is a serious omission. One of the problems with studying this region's mollusca is that so much information is scattered, often in obscure journals which are difficult to trace. Even a list of principal references would have been helpful. This omission also means that where illustrations have been reproduced from earlier works it may be unnecessarily difficult to trace the original work. For example the photograph of Anatoma euglyptus (Pelseener, 1903) is quoted as reproduced from Dell 1990.1 assume that this is taken from R.K. Dell's Antarctic Mollusca but have no easy way of checking. If there is any future reprint of this book the publishers should seriously consider both amending the index to include synonyms and adding a bibliography. Neither would involve expensive alteration to the layout of the existing text but would greatly improve the usefulness of the book.
This book is a very welcome addition to the growing number of regional monographs, all the more so since there has been no previous comprehensive work devoted to the Magellanic Region's Molluscs. Moreover many of the species included especially the numerous microshells, are not illustrated in other more general identification guides. That the text is in Spanish should not deter anyone from buying this book which is extremely reasonably priced. It can be highly recommended.