Molluscs 1997

Rottnest Island, Western Australia 

1-4 February 1997 

The huge Indo-West Pacific and Australasian Region has a tremendous diversity of marine, freshwater and terrestrial molluscs. Throughout the many countries with coastlines on the Indo-Pacific, there are many scientists working on all aspects of molluscan biology including systematics, ecology, physiology, functional morphology. Many of the scientists use different languages from each other and publish in journals from their own country. Yet we all share in common our work on molluscs and the need to share information with scientists from other countries.

To help overcome some of this “tyranny of distance”, The Malacological Society of Australasia organised a symposium on the “Molluscs of the Indo-West Pacific and Australasian Region”. This was the first meeting to bring together malacologists and other interested scientists working on the molluscs of the region.

The symposium was held at the Rottnest Environmental Education Centre at Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, Western Australia from 1 to 4 February 1997. It attracted 60 leading experts on molluscs from Australia and 12 overseas countries (Fiji, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, United States, Denmark, and South Africa). Over half of the delegates were from outside Australia.

The keynote speaker was Prof Alan J Kohn of the University of Washington. Prof Kohn has worked on Indo-Pacific molluscs for forty years and is an acknowledged world authority on the subject. He spoke on his extensive work on the gastropod genus Conus, tracing the geological history of the genus, the history of his own work on Conus (a very much shorter timeframe), and provided a series of recommendations on future directions for research on the genus.

Prof Kohn is best known in Western Australia for his discovery at the 1991 AMSA marine biological workshop of imposex, a reproductive abnormality caused by tributyl tin pollution, in the genus Conus at Rottnest Island. In addition to his keynote address, Prof Kohn reported to the conference on work on Conus conducted at the 1996 Rottnest workshop by himself, Dr Fred Wells, then of the WA Museum, and Dr Carol Lalli of the University of British Columbia. The work compares imposex levels in 1991 and 1996.

Other talks dealt with a very wide range of topics, including molluscan fisheries in Western Australia, the use of molluscs in conservation in areas of Indonesia, evolutionary studies of a variety of groups, ecology and taxonomy.

Fred Wells, Western Australian Museum (Chairman)
Anne Brearley, University of Western Australia
Lindsay Joll, Western Australian Fisheries Dept
David Macey, Murdoch University