Letter: Naturalists do care about small snails

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The Independent Online
Sir: I take issue with Nicholas Schoon's suggestion (15 May) that none beyond a few dozen specialists in museums and university biology departments really cares about the hundreds of small utterly obscure plant and animal species in Britain that are declining or endangered.

There is a large community of people throughout Britain whose recreation involves the searching for, and recording of distributions of the many small invertebrates which inhabit the British Isles. These small animals form a significant proportion of our total fauna, for example, of the 95 terrestrial snail species listed for Britain at least 27 are less than 2mm when adult. The fact that these animals must be viewed through a microscope in no way detracts from the fascination of their complex and beautiful body forms and interesting behaviour, nor from their value to the ecosystems to which they belong.

The well-informed naturalist knows where these animals live and how to find them, a resource which is tapped by the professional scientific community and conservation organisations.

Janice Light

Godalming, Surrey