The present composition of the arid-zone terrestrial mollusc fauna reflects the post Pliocene aridity with a mix of highly adapted and relictual taxa. A database of 8,200 pulmonate gastropod records derived from museum collections was compiled for continental Australia and interrogated for the purposes of examining distributional trends for inland arid and semi-arid Australia. Endemism and species richness were examined at species, genus and family level. A potentially high correlation was found between species richness, endemism and sharp topographic relief, highlighting the desert ranges – particularly the West MacDonnell and Flinders Ranges as of national significance for conservation. The implications of the use of land snail data for conservation assessment, particularly for the identification of terrestrial refugia, are discussed.
Keywords: arid zone, endemism, species richness, biodiversity, refugia, Red Centre, limestone; invertebrate, museum records