Associate Researcher, Center for Conservation Research & Training (PBRC)
Director of the Hawaiian Tree Snail Conservation Lab, Center for Conservation Research & Training
Texas A&M University, Ph.D. (Oceanography)
Texas A&M University, M.S. (Oceanography)
University of California at San Diego, B.A. (Biology)
The primary function of my lab is research and conservation relating to native Hawaiian snails. We are currently working with a number of species, 9 of which (Achatinella spp.) are Federally listed as endangered. Hawaiian tree snails are members of the endemic subfamily Achatinellinae, long-lived snails with beautifully colored and banded shells along with unusually low fecundity and growth rates. They have very specific habitat requirements, living in native host trees for population maintenance and survival. We have a team of dedicated students, technicians, postdoctoral researchers and interns whose responsibilities include feeding and caring for these unique, extremely rare endemic taxa.
Conservation status: We use a number of modern tools to improve our understanding of the biogeographic and evolutionary history of these fascinating, and diverse island lineages. Before introduction of several key predators, the Hawaiian Islands had more snail species than all of North America. Hawaiian tree snails have experienced devastating levels of extinction, of 99 species only about 25 remain. Today all are restricted to native forests above 600 m in elevation. The most important threat to the persistence of rare land snails is introduced predators, and a number of our research efforts are underway to try to find ways to control invasive pests and stabilize habitat such that it is once again safe for native species with little or no natural defenses.
Ecological value: The tree snails are not only esthetically important and evolutionarily informative, they are excellent ecological indicators: their presence in the wild identifies pristine, intact high priority forests, free of invasive plants and animals. Native forests are crucial to human health, as they act as natural rainwater filtration and catchment systems for island watersheds. Rain, mist, and condensation drip from tree leaves and plants to spongy mosses and soils, where they are held, acting as reserves that recharge the island water supply. Without upland native forests, the rivers and aquifers that supply our plentiful clean water would wither and dry up.
2013 Chiaverano, L.M., B.S. Holland, G.L. Crow, L. Blair, and A.A. Yanagihara. Long-term fluctuations in circalunar beach aggregations of the box jellyfish Alatina moseri in Hawai'i, with links to environmental variability. PLoS ONE, in press
2012 Holland B.S., T. Chock, A. Lee & S. Sugiura. Tracking behavior in the snail, Euglandina rosea: First evidence of preference for endemic versus biocontrol target pest species in Hawaii. American Malacological Bulletin, 30(1):153-157.
2011 Bird, C.E., B.S. Holland, B.W. Bowen & R.J. Toonen. Diversification in broadcast-spawning sympatric Hawaiian limpets (Cellana spp.). Molecular Ecology. 20:2128-2141.
2011 Rubinoff, D., B.S. Holland, M. San Jose, J.A. Powell. Geographic proximity not a prerequisite for invasion: Hawaii not the source of California invasion by light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana). PLoS ONE 6(1):23-31.
2011 Sugiura, S., B.S Holland & R.H. Cowie. Predatory behaviour in juvenile Euglandina rosea. Journal of Molluscan Studies 77: 101-102.
2010 Holland, B.S., S.L. Montgomery, V. Costello. A reptilian smoking gun: first record of invasive Jackson’s chameleon (Chamaeleo jacksonii xantholophus) predation on native Hawaiian species. Biodiversity and Conservation 19(5):1437-1441.
Invasive Cannibal Snails vs. Endemic Hawaiian Tree Snails (, Brenden Holland)
Researchers Use Reptile to Help Save Endangered Tree Snail (KHON2 News; March 7, 2013)