How to Search Mollusca


The search will find any word or part of a word in all those fields that are open to you. This can help you because

Species name gender endings:- you need not enter the full name of a species you can find alba, albus or album by entering alb or alb* only.

Geographic localities:- if you cannot remember exact spellings simply enter the first few letters.


Superfamily, Family and Subfamily fields are provided for searching across higher taxon levels. Searching on these alone will produce extensive lists and cost you time.

Current name and Original label name

These are groups of four fields each, Genus, Species, Author, Date and can be searched individually or in combination. The Genus field contains generic and subgeneric names in combination. The Species field contains species and subspecies/variety names in combination, especially in the original label name field. The free text retrieval allows entry of either level when searching.

We organise our collection using modern systematic checklists and revisions and have attempted to recognise both generic and species level synonymy. The name resulting from this review is to be found in the Current name fields. Any taxonomic group which has been handlisted should return records by searching on Current name.

The collection is historic and you may be trying to find a specimen described or cited in publications dating back to 1850. In these cases you should use the Original label name and should always use these fields for locating type material. It is best to search collections which are not handlisted by original label name, but be aware that the Genus field may be empty.

Status and Primary type fields are supplied to help you find type, potential type or cited & figured specimens. The Status field lists all categories and can be used when you know the exact status. If you wish to find ANY primary type material use the YES box of the Primary type field, this aggregates all Holotype, Syntype, Paratype, Lectotype and Neotype requests.

Locality, Country and Sea are the geographic locality fields. Country and Sea (Marine regions) allow broad range searching but will produce large lists and therefore cost you time if used in isolation. The Sea field is a pull down menu of predefined areas which cannot be altered. The Locality field includes all data at the regional or finer level as well as any grid reference, altitude, depth and date of collection data that is available.

Source field contains data on the original collector (leg. designations = collected by) and secondary collection (coll. designations = from the collection of). Expeditions are also noted in this field. A list of sources already recognised from our major collections is within the Historical Review.


Collection indicates the donor to the museum and may include many sources. Use the Source field to locate material by collector.

Number of specimens indicates the number of individuals in each lot.

NMW.Z. gives the registration number of each lot. This number should be quoted in enquiries, loan requests and also when our material is cited in publications.

Type Reference will give you the original reference to the description of those taxa represented in our collection by type specimens.


We envisage you making FOUR types of basic search.

  • By Taxon
  • By Type or Status
  • By Geographic locality
  • By Historical source

By Taxon

Superfamily, Family and Subfamily requests (only one is needed) should be entered into the appropriate field. Such requests will often produce large returns and will cost you time.

Genus and species level searches use EITHER the Current name or Original label name fields. Decide which is appropriate (see DATABASE FIELDS) and enter requests noting that the more refined the request the quicker the response. If you have a species name but are unsure of the genus refine your request by entering the Subfamily or Family. Be careful about using Authority and Date especially if searching on the Original label name fields, they are very likely abbreviated, not correct or absent.

By Type or Status

Either activate the Primary type field by clicking button or choose the exact status of material from the Status field.

Use the Original label name fields for refining your request as we keep types under their original designations.

Enter species name and refine request by also entering genus. If you are unsure of the generic name used, enter only the species and refine the search by using Family or Subfamily. Alternatively you can use the Authority field to refine the request. If you use the Date field be sure you are correct.

You can also find all types held within a higher taxonomic category or all held described by one author. Activate Primary type or Status fields Enter only the supraspecific (Superfamily, Family, Subfamily or Genus) taxon or the authority (Authority) and request search. We do not hold vast numbers of types so these requests should be manageable.

Note that the data on types available here is a subset of our total information which is available on request.

By Geographic locality

Three locality fields are available, the most simple are the Country and Sea fields which can be used to search for material from individual nations or predefined marine regions. Using the Locality field allows smaller areas to be surveyed as this field contains region level and point level data.

Broad Region searching

Enter country or predefined marine region in appropriate fields and search.

The marine regions can be large and searches can be refined by also entering a country level. Example: Enter Egypt into Country and Red Sea into Sea you will retrieve only marine species from the Egyptian Red Sea. Egypt on its own will list all marine and terrestrial holdings.

Asking this level of "what do you have from where?" question can be done without defining any taxonomic level but will produce long lists and cost you time.

Narrow Region searching

Enter any locality into the Locality field and search. This type of searching may produce long lists but NOTE the older collections have rather basic data and point locality searching may return few records.

Refining geographic locality searching

Refine your searches by adding some taxonomic level request

By Historic source

Searching for collectors or material collected by notable figures is often useful for locating possible type material. You can search for the original collector or secondary collection by entering the surname of the individual in the Source field. Also enter Expedition names here for lists of expedition materials held.

Refine these searches by adding taxonomic levels or geographic levels. By adding the same name into the Authority name of the Original label name fields may highlight possible type material or specimens collected by the author (authors topotypes).

Other search formats

You can use any combination of fields to define a search but some combinations may be unproductive. We especially do not recommend using both Current and Original name fields simultaneously.


We have attempted to make the first results of your search relatively simple so that long lists are manageable. The results of your first search will produce a simple list

Current name + (Original name) + Locality + Country+ Sea

Your search definitions should make these lists relevant to your needs. If you have asked for a taxon then the locality data gives a little refinement. If you have asked for a status level then you have a taxon held list for the status requested. If you have asked a "what from where' search then there is a taxon held list and locality detail. A Source search gives both a taxon held list plus some locality refinement.

You can then click on any single entry and the full record will be presented.