What are Molluscs?

Molluscs form the largest marine phylum with an estimated 85,000 living species.  They are invertebrates and have colonised a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats.  In addition to occupying equable habitats in temperate zones and the tropics, there are mollusc species living in hostile and extreme environments: in deserts, at the Poles and in the hot waters at hydrothermal vents on mid-ocean ridges.

As a phylum they are morphologically diverse: gastropod species are most numerous, followed by bivalves, cephalopods, chitons, scaphopods, pteropods, aplacophorans.  Although molluscs feature some unique anatomical features, no one feature is common to all Classes of mollusc.

The following list of categories provides further information on UK molluscs:

  • Encyclopedia - The Encyclopedia is an emerging on-line reference source for the species of mollusc found within Britain and Ireland which includes illustrations, descriptions, and distribution maps. It is under development but already contains over 250 accounts and 1500 images of species. 
  • Identification guides - The Society is actively developing a range of identification guides catering for a range of skill levels. 
  • Glossary - There are a variety of terms describing aspects of molluscs used to describe the appearance and parts of molluscs. A reasonably comprehensive list is included in the glossary.
  • Conservation - Molluscan conservation is an important part of  the Society's activities, and the Society works closely with a wide range of other governmental and non-governmental organisations in order to include molluscs in programmes maintaining Britain's species and habitat diversity.