In 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requested assistance from the American Malacological Society in the development of a list of non-native snails and slugs of top national quarantine significance. From a review of the major pest snail and slug literature, together with our own experience, we developed a preliminary list of gastropod species displaying significant potential to damage natural ecosystems or agriculture, or human health or commerce, and either entirely absent from the United States to our knowledge or restricted to narrow areas of introduction. Comments on the list from the worldwide malacological community were then solicited and led us to modify the original list. We then evaluated the taxa on this list by ranking them according to 12 attributes—seven biological variables and five aspects of human interaction—based on thorough review of the detailed literature. The ranked list that emerged from this risk assessment process included 46 taxa (species or species-groups) in 18 families. The highest ranked taxa were in the Ampullariidae, Hygromiidae, Cochlicellidae, Helicidae, Veronicellidae, Succineidae, Achatinidae, and Planorbidae. We validated the risk assessment model by scoring a suite of non-native snail and slug species already present in the United States. The list is not definitive but rather is offered as a framework for additional research. There remain important gaps in biological knowledge of many of the taxa evaluated, and rigorous reporting of economic impacts is extremely limited. We expect the prioritizing and listing of taxa to be dynamic, not only as these knowledge gaps are filled but also as environmental, agricultural, international trade, and societal factors change.
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Vol. 27 • No. 1/2