Partula is a genus of air-breathing tropical land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Partulidae. Many species of Partula are known under the general common names "Polynesian tree snail" and "Moorean viviparous tree snail". Partulids are distributed across 5,000 sq mi (13,000 km2) of Pacific Ocean islands, from the Society Islands to New Guinea.
Once used as decorative items in Polynesian ceremonial wear and jewelry, these small snails (averaging about one-half to three-quarters of an inch in length) gained the attention of science when Dr. Henry Crampton (along with Yoshio Kondo) spent 50 years studying and cataloging partulids, detailing their remarkable array of morphological elements, ecological niches, and behavioral aspects that illustrate adaptive radiation.
The partulids of the island of Tahiti act as an example of the possible deleterious effects of attempted biological control. After an infestation of the introduced giant African land snails (Achatina spp.), the carnivorous Florida rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) was introduced into Tahiti in an attempt to combat the African species.
The wolfsnail chose instead to hunt and eat members of the nearly 76 species of Partula that were endemic to Tahiti and the nearby islands, devouring all but 12 species in a decade. Several scientists recognized what was going on, and were able to save 12 species prior to their becoming extinct.
Today, the Zoological Society of London runs the Partula Programme Consortium which maintains a captive-breeding programme in the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.
The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species contains 15 critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild, and 48 extinct Partula species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species version 2009.2 contains 13 critically endangered, 11 extinct in the wild and 51 extinct Partula species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species version 2015-4 contains 83 Partula species.
Species within the genus Partula include: