Moluscos/Porto Santo - Terrestrial Molluscs of Porto Santo and the Adjacent Islets

LIFE98 NAT/P/005239

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Contact details:

Project Manager: António DOMINGOS DE SOUSA ABREU
Tel: 351/291/233229
Fax: 351/291/233249
Email: domingosabreu.sra@gov-madeira.pt

Project description:


Porto Santo island and the six adjacent islets boast a wide diversity of terrestrial molluscs, all of them endemic to this area. These species have both small populations and restricted distribution areas within each islet. Detailed quantitative knowledge about the real size of each population, their exact distribution and biological requirements was scarce. In this situation, it was difficult to plan for the conservation of this biological group. The project focused on a number of areas, all of them within two Sites of Community Interest (SCIs). Three of the mollusc species are listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive (Caseolus commixtus, Caseolus sphaerulus, and Idiomela subplicata). The small size of the sites where they are present pose risks to both habitats and species, as do the increase of human pressure resulting from tourism and the lack of knowledge about the status and distribution of the molluscs. Another potential problem is the increasing size of the gull population, resulting from the existence of open-air dumping grounds. These birds are active mollusc predators, although their real impact on mollusc populations is unknown. The project was proposed by a private institution and had the support of the local authority responsible for nature conservation in the area, which undertook to include the guidelines provided by the project into the management of the areas, providing they are integrated in the Natura 2000 network.


The main objective of this project was to provide the information necessary for active conservation of the mollusc species mentioned in the background, and to delineate the basic guidelines to be included in the management plans for the SCIs. Actions planned included:

  • Inventorising the mollusc species present in both SCIs;
  • Determining the distribution areas of each Annex II species within the target areas;
  • Mapping the distribution of species within a GIS for use in a monitoring and dissemination programme;
  • Studying the biology and ecology of the SCIs, and preparing a monitoring and management strategy for their populations. Finally, the project also included a local awareness-raising campaign, with the involvement in the fieldwork of the local student population.


    The project obtained important new data regarding a group of species about which little information was previously available, and achieved most of its objectives: an exhaustive inventory was performed in all islets; the distribution area of each of the Habitats Directive Annex II species within the Sites of Community Interest (SCIs) was established; and a cartography scheme within a GIS was sent to the Regional Government/Regional Directory of the Environment, which planning, in turn, to make it available to the different target publics. Another objective was a proposal for a monitoring plan for the mollusc species. In this respect only preliminary guidelines were provided by the project. This was justified by the fact that the global definitive management plans for the SCIs should take into account other species as well. The competent authorities have agreed to incorporate the project’s proposals into the global management plans for the SCIs, expected for 2006. The increased knowledge about a fauna group that was scarcely understood before, and the systematisation of this information, will allow more effective management of the Natura 2000 sites involved in the project. The project took steps to involve the small local community (around 5000 inhabitants) of Porto Santo, which, before LIFE, had scarcely heard about the mollusc communities. This involvement was achieved through contacts with the Porto Santo Municipality and the Porto Santo Delegation of the Regional Government, as well as through the media. The beneficiary made a special effort to inform and involve local students in the project. The project had the benefit of bringing this information to them and raising their interest in the natural heritage around them, a theme usually more associated with the neighbouring Madeira and Deserta islands, because of the unique laurel forest of the former and the Monk Seal community of the latter. The management plan that was drafted set out a series of actions to be implemented, namely controlling visitor access, signing, stricter application of the Environmental Impact Assessment legislation, continuing monitoring, continuation of the dissemination programme, and forbidding mollusc collection. Future efforts should focus on the creation and adoption of management plans for the islets, that will effectively integrate the above mentioned proposals developed by the project.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Invertebrates


protected area‚  management plan‚  cartography‚  monitoring system‚  island‚  environmental impact assessment

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Caseolus commixta   Caseolus sphaerula   Idiomela subplicata 

Natura 2000 sites

SCI PTPOR0001 Ilhéus do Porto Santo
SCI PTPOR0002 Pico Branco - Porto Santo



Coordinator CITMA - Centro de Ciência & Tecnologia da Madeira
Type of organisation Research institution
Description The Centro de Ciência & Tecnología da Madeira is a private non-profit institution created by a group of public and private local organisations, namely the Regional Government, the University of Madeira and the Municipality of Funchal. It aims, amongst other things, to develop and support research and development activities, and to provide technical and scientific information.


Project reference LIFE98 NAT/P/005239
Duration 01-SEP-1998 to 31-DEC -2001
Total budget 158,597.75 €
EU contribution 79,298.87 €
Project location Madeira(Portugal)


Read more:

Leaflet Title: Moluscos Terrestres do Porto Santo e Ilhéus Adjacentes Editor: Museu Municipal do Funchal No of pages: 5
Poster Title: Conservation of Land Snails in Porto Santo Island - Madeira Archipelago Author: Cristina M.C. Abreu & António D. Abreu Year: 2001 Editor: World Congress of Malacology
Poster Title: Moluscos Terrestres do Porto Santo e Ilhéus Adjacentes Editor: Museu Municipal do Funchal


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version