This thesis provides insights into the evolution of freshwater gastropod diversity of European continental aquatic systems during the Neogene and Quaternary. Three main aspects are explored: 1) the distribution of gastropods in modern lakes of Europe, 2) the spatial and temporal patterns of species during the Quaternary and 3) the evolution of richness hotspots during the last 23 myr.In total, 244 species of freshwater gastropods have been recorded for 898 European lakes. The effect of seven predictor variables, i.e., surface area, longitude and latitude of lake centroid, lake altitude, lake isolation, annual precipitation and annual mean temperature, and the influence of Late Pleistocene deglaciation on species richness were evaluated using multiple linear regression models. Beta diversity patterns between lake subsets with different deglaciation history, as well as the influence of varied species dispersal abilities and environment factors on species composition within these subsets, were also investigated. The results indicated that both species richness and beta diversity are partly explained by environmental factors and deglaciation history. Within the lake subsets, species composition is also controlled by dispersal limitations of species. The distribution of gastropods in modern European lakes is a young pattern. Since the end of the last Ice Age gastropods have recolonized European lakes a process that is still ongoing.For the Quaternary, 398 species were recorded from the lacustrine and fluvio-lacustrine deposits of 1129 localities. Species and localities were separated into six distinct time intervals of the Quaternary, i.e., Gelasian, Calabrian, Ionian, Last Interglacial, Last Glacial and Holocene; for evaluation of the Plio-Pleistocene turnover the late Pliocene was included as well. Analyses of species richness, composition and geographical ranges revealed significant differences between the time intervals. Gelasian and Calabrian localities are exceptionally rich; the temporal turnover is high especially between the late Pliocene and the Gelasian. As for the Pliocene, early Pleistocene species still mostly derive from long-lived lakes, a result that is also reflected in the low biogeographical affinities of the localities. In comparison, few long-lived lakes are known for the Middle Pleistocene to Holocene and species derive mostly from short-lived fluvial and/or lacustrine systems. Temporal turnover between those time intervals is lower and the number of generalist species with wide geographical ranges is increased, resulting in the loss of the provincial character typical of the Neogene and Early Quaternary freshwater gastropod faunas.The study of Miocene to Recent freshwater gastropod distributions revealed that the evolution of continental aquatic hotspots of Europe is related to its geodynamic history that facilitated the formation of several long-lived lakes with diverse faunas. Regression analyses further showed that species richness in long-lived lakes increases with warmer climate and larger surface area. The most prominent hotspots of the Neogene existed in the Late Miocene and Pliocene, including the biggest of all, Lake Pannon. The demise of most long-lived lakes at the end of the Pliocene and Quaternary glaciations contributed to the disappearance of such hotspots. In present-day Europe three hotspots of gastropod species richness are recognized. Two of them, the Caspian Sea and Lake Ohrid, evolved in basins that were present already during or before the Pleistocene. The third hotspot is located around the Baltic Sea and consists of a series of geologically young lakes and freshwater lagoons and likely results from constant species accumulation by immigration since deglaciation.