Biologist marks discovery of snail species in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Biologists in Utah celebrate an exciting discovery after finding a never-before-seen species in Beehive State.

During annual surveys in April of the Dry Fork Canyon in the Uinta Mountains, Biologists from the Division of Wildlife Resources discovered the zoogenetes harpa snail – otherwise known as the boreal snail. In May, it was discovered again in Big Brush Creek Canyon in the Uintas.

So far, eight live boreal snails have been found in the area. Biologists were recently able to confirm that the snail is a new species in Utah.

So far, there have been 66 species of aquatic snails and 58 species of land snails known in Utah. The discovery of the boreal snail brings the total number of snail species in Utah to 125.

The boreal snail is a tiny land snail measuring only four millimeters in length as an adult. It’s about the size of a quinoa grain. It has a unique shell very different from other land snails in Utah, which is reddish-brown and cone-shaped with ribs along the lower spirals.

DWR explains that the boreal snail, like most other land snails, is most active in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild and humidity levels higher. The snails have all been found under fallen trunks, at or near the bottom of canyons, in mountain forests dominated by fir trees.

Although records are quite rare, DWR claims this snail has been found in Japan, Scandinavia, the Swiss Alps, northern Russia, Canada, and several states in the northern United States. Biologists believe that these snails found in the Uinta Mountains are part of the snail’s natural range.

“Finding a new species is very exciting because it shows that there is still a lot to learn and discover when it comes to the natural world, and it shows that there is still a lot that we don’t know. again, ”DWR Native told aquatic biologist Jordon Detlor. “It is this enthusiasm and this spirit of discovery that attracted me to the field of natural resources.

Management of native snails is fairly recent in Utah, but biologists are conducting surveys statewide to learn more about the different species, their distribution, and how to reduce or eliminate threats to snails in order to better address them. to keep.

According to the DWR, many native aquatic snail species are threatened by non-native species like New Zealand snails and illegally introduced pet fish.

“Because land snails feed on living and dead plant material and help break down leaf litter and rotten wood, they are an important piece of the puzzle for healthy and functioning ecosystems,” says Detlor. “They in turn are a food source for various insects, small mammals and even some birds, including grouse and turkeys. Snails are part of the rich diversity of wildlife we ​​enjoy here in Utah.

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