Our modern understanding of the taxonomy and systematics of the North American freshwater gastropod fauna is a function both of the natural history of the vast rivers, lakes and streams through which that diverse fauna has evolved, and the human history of the biologists who have come behind, struggling to catalog the biodiversity as it has elaborated before their eyes. Here we collect 32 essays, originally published in blog form 2019 – 2023, exploring the relationship between natural history, human history, and the evolutionary models we impose today upon the pleurocerid snails of the American interior, and upon the hydrobioid snails, broadly understood.
Featured topics include intrapopulation gene flow, barriers to dispersal, character phase disequilibrium, and speciation. Special attention is called to the phenomena of cryptic phenotypic plasticity and mitochondrial superheterogeneity, both of which were introduced in Volume 3 of the present series. Along the way we meet Professor Gerard Troost, who was twice-captured and ransomed by privateers, Captain S. S. Lyon, who singlehandly saved the Union command of George W. Morgan in 1862, and Dr. Isaac Lea, the Nestor of American Naturalists, who drives me nuts. Together these 32 studies comprise an essential companion to the scientific results of the 14-state survey of the freshwater gastropod fauna The Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee River systems published in Volume 5.