Marla L. Coppolino

Master of Science Candidate
Department of Zoology
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Advisor: Dr. Frank E. Anderson
Committee: Dr. John Reeve, Dr. Timothy Pearce (Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

Research Work Abstract:

Land Snail Abundance and Diversity in Six Southern Illinois Counties with Associated Ecological Variables

Land snails have been recognized as a group of conservation concern in the state of Illinois (USA). Nine out of thirteen threatened or endangered terrestrial gastropods species listed in the Illinois Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan are known to have extant populations in southern Illinois. I am conducting surveys of land snails at 60 sites in a six-county area of southwestern Illinois, bordering the Mississippi River. These sites represent the areas of highest gastropod diversity in Illinois and are currently believed to support at least 90 living species. This region also includes the greatest diversity of vegetation in the state, and comprises several areas with high-calcium, high-pH soils. Although previous collectors have contributed to records of snail occurrences in this region, none have provided quantitative data or accompanying soil studies. I am employing a quantitative method (timed searches in replicated square-meter quadrats), as well as more qualitative methods (e.g., leaf litter sampling) to maximize diversity recovery. Data on ecological variables including rock type, soil chemistry and various microhabitat variables are also being collected. To date, representatives of more than 60 species have been found at the 60 sites surveyed. Preliminary analyses show dignificant differences among sites in terms of abundance and diversity. Sites showing the highest levels of both parameters were in areas of limestone; lowest levels occurred in areas of shale.

Click here for information on the land snail project.


Currently in process of completion of Master of Science in Zoology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Expected graduation: May 2009.

Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, 1991, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Minor: Zoology.


Terrestrial gastropods, mollusk conservation, terrestrial ecology, museum collections management, biological illustration

Selected Professional Experience

Collections Manager, Malacology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, 2004 to 2006. Collections management of Mollusca (of dry, alcohol-preserved, type, and photographic transparency collections), database management, website design and maintenance, registrarial work, participation in public educational programs, and assisting curator/supervisor (Dr. Paula Mikkelsen) with research needs, including collections duties, scientific illustration, scanning electron microscopy, histology.

Biological Technician II, Fish & Wildlife Associates, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1992. Contract work for Tennessee Valley Authority, Aquatic Biology Laboratory, Zebra Mussel Monitoring Project. Collected field samples and checked for presence of zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) veligers in Tennessee rivers and lakes. Also worked on monitoring project for Asiatic clams (Corbicula fluminea).

Biological Illustrator and Artist, 1992 to present. Pen and ink, watercolor, carbon dust, oil and mixed media works for scientific publications, magazines and original works exhibited in major cities around the world. Click here to see examples.

Internship in Herpetology Department, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia; 1991. Maintenance of exhibits, preparation of diets, and care of animals in education and reptile departments.

Presentations (also see Outreach)

  • Land snail collecting strategies
    • American Malacological Society, July 2008
  • Snails from America's Heartland: Abundance and Diversity of Terrestrial Gastropods in Southern Illinois (versions for each venue vary in time and content)
    • American Malacological Society, July 2008
    • Illinois Department of Natural Resources, staff meeting, June 2008
    • Southern Illinois Sierra Club, February 2008
    • Insect Awareness and Appreciation Day, Shawnee Aubudon Society event, August 2007
    • World Congress of Malacology, Antwerp, Belgium, July 2007
    • Giant City State Park, Makanda, IL, June 2007
    • Southern Illinois Audubon Society, Carbondale, IL, April 2007
  • Land Snail Abundance and Diversity in Southern Illinois
    • I-CLAM (Illinois Consortium of Land and Aquatic Mollusks), Urbana, IL, August 2006
    • Mid-Atlantic Malacologists meeting, Wilmington, DE, March 2007
  • Shells from the Jungle: Mollusks from the American Museum of Natural History Belgian Congo Expedition (1909-1915)
    • New York Shell Club, New York, NY, November 2005
    • Mid-Atlantic Malacologists meeting, Wilmington, DE, March 2006
    • Jersey Cape Shell Club, Cape May, NJ, May 2006

Memberships and Professional Recognition

  • American Malacological Society
  • Unitas Malacologia
  • Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society
  • The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • PROMPT (Proactive Recruitment of Multicultural Professionals for Tomorrow) Fellowship recipient, 2006-2008, Southern Illinois University
  • Golden Key International Honour Society


  • Coppolino, M.L. 2009 (in press). A review of land snail collecting strategies with emphasis on conservation. American Malacological Bulletin.
  • Coppolino, M.L. 2009 (in press). Land snails in Illinois. Outdoor Illinois.
  • Coppolino, M.L. 2009 (in press). Illinois land snails and slugs. Educational poster, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


Marla Coppolino
c/o Dr. Frank Anderson
Department of Zoology, Mailcode 6501
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-6501
email: marlacoppolino (at)

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Page last updated: Saturday, January 31, 2009

Site content, images and website development by Marla L. Coppolino. Please cite as:
Coppolino, M.L. 2009. Land Snails of Southern Illinois. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA. accessed on [today's date].

Southern Illinois Land Snails - Southern Illinois Land Snails Species Checklist
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