Oreohelix strigosa - (Gould, 1846)
Rocky Mountainsnail
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Oreohelix strigosa (Gould, 1846) (TSN 77693)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.109795
Element Code: IMGASB5320
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Terrestrial Snails
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Stylommatophora Oreohelicidae Oreohelix
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Turgeon, D.D., J.F. Quinn, Jr., A.E. Bogan, E.V. Coan, F.G. Hochberg, W.G. Lyons, P.M. Mikkelsen, R.J. Neves, C.F.E. Roper, G. Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F.G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.D. Williams. 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Mollusks. 2nd Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 26, Bethesda, Maryland: 526 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B98TUR01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Oreohelix strigosa
Taxonomic Comments: Considerable confusion exists in the literature, especially in older works, concerning Oreohelix strigosa and Oreohelix subrudis, which were frequently confused, O. subrudis having often been included in O. strigosa, at least until the mid-1930s. Older literature is further complicated by use of the name "Oreohelix cooperi", formerly applied variously to both O. strigosa and O. subrudis; the name cooperi has also been used for various races of each of both species, but, as used now, this name has been restricted to one race of O. strigosa.

Although Brandauer (1988), based on both external (shell) and internal (genitalia and radula) morphology, concluded that Oreohelix subrudis should be considered only a form (or "morph") of Oreohelix strigosa (i.e., that the two are synonyms), Rees (1988) found that "[c]onsistent and distinct differences in enzyme banding patterns between these two species were revealed by electrophoresis" and "allozyme variation can be assessed to reliably distinguish between O. strigosa and O. subrudis."

Pilsbry (1939) discussed 10 subspecies and numerous "forms" and "varieties" of Oreohelix strigosa, but his subspecies concept was very different from the one that is in current taxonomic use, many of Pilsbry's subspecies now being regarded as mere "morphs". Richardson (1984) listed 25 subspecies (including one fossil race) of Oreohelix strigosa. It is questionable whether all of these subspecies merit recognition, for O. strigosa is one of the most plastic and polymorphic of all gastropods, exhibiting surprisingly great variation even within local populations.

Weaver et al. (2008) concluded that specimens identified as Oreohelix peripherica wasatchensis are not monophyletic based on molecular and radular data; and instead show two distinct clades within "O. p. wasatchensis", one that nests within Oreohelix strigosa, and one that is a sister group to Oreohelix peripherica peripherica. Their evidence indicates Oreohelix strigosa may not be a monophyletic group and add that taxonomic revision of the species is necessary.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5Q
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Oct2002
Global Status Last Changed: 08Oct2002
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread, abundant, and, within its range, apparently one of the most secure of all mollusk species, including exotic introductions.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (08Oct2002)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3N4 (24Jan2013)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Arizona (S4S5), Idaho (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Iowa (SX), Kansas (SNR), Montana (S5), Navajo Nation (SNR), Nevada (SNR), New Mexico (SNR), Oregon (SNR), South Dakota (SNR), Utah (S5), Washington (S4), Wyoming (S2)
Canada Alberta (SU), British Columbia (S3S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Occurs generally throughout the mountainous areas of interior western North America. Known from southeastern British Columbia, extreme southeastern Alberta, eastern Washington, extreme northeastern Oregon, northern and extreme southeastern Idaho, western Montana, extreme western South Dakota (i.e., the Black Hills), extreme western Wyoming, extreme eastern Nevada, nearly all of Utah, Colorado except the eastern third, northern and eastern Arizona, and northern and central New Mexico (Pilsbry 1939; see also Bequaert and Miller 1973). Known also as a Pleistocene fossil in Iowa and Illinois (Pilsbry 1939, Morrison 1943, Frest and Rhodes 1981). Pilsbry (1939) commented on the discontinuities in the northern and northwestern parts of its range (i.e., Washington and Oregon). Disjunct populations are also apparent at the northeastern and southern limits of distribution, some notable examples of such disjunct--probably Pleistocene relictual--populations being those in the Black Hills (South Dakota), the White Mountains (Arizona), and the Sierra Blanca (New Mexico).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Certainly well over 100 and possibly 1,000 or more extant occurrences. Pilsbry's dot map (1939, Figure 296) shows 106 specimen localities (for this species), and very many more are known. For example, in Utah alone only a small fraction of the extant occurrences are represented in Pilsbry's (1939) map. Distribution in Alberta is spotty: Cypress Hills with the next nearest location being Waterton Lake, then north of Pincher Creek (Lepitzki, 2001). Most recently, it was discovered in the Ktunaxa Traditional Territory in southeastern British Columbia (which extends from near Canada - U.S. border north to about 50 km north of Cranbrook) (Ovaska and Sopuck, 2009).

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Declared by Chamberlin and Jones (1929) to be "Utah's commonest land [snail] species" and "the most widely distributed and abundant snail in Utah." Clearly abundant in Colorado (see, for example, Pilsbry 1939). Noted in many other, more localized studies as abundant. Spamer and Bogan (1993), for example, writing of the genus OREOHELIX, stated: "This is the most common and widely dispersed terrrestrial mollusk in the Grand Canyon." They certainly meant OREOHELIX STRIGOSA, for which they listed 75 collecting localities in the Grand Canyon, and not the only other species of OREOHELIX that occurs there, for which they listed only six localities. Even in the northern and northwestern parts of its range, where localities are scattered and its distribution is "markedly discontinuous", Pilsbry (1939) considered it to be "an abundant snail".

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Generally protected from most anthropogenic threats by the unsuitablity of its habitat for development and other economic use; however, timber harvest within its habitat is very likely a threat. Fire represents a natural threat.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Brandauer (1988) reported that in Colorado the genus OREOHELIX (almost certainly meaning, at least in part, the species O. STRIGOSA, though she included O. SUBRUDIS in her concept of O. STRIGOSA and also discussed O. HAYDENI) "has become less abundant in the last 50 years" and "the experience of collectors [in Colorado] since 1973 has shown that the sizes of the colonies have apparently become smaller, and many populations have disappeared altogether." While this may be the case in Colorado, such findings have not been corroborated elsewhere, and other, more recent studies (e.g., Spamer and Bogan's [1993] Grand Canyon work) make no mention of the decline or disappearance of populations.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: No evidence is known of fragility or susceptibility to non-destructive human intrusion.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Occurs generally throughout the mountainous areas of interior western North America. Known from southeastern British Columbia, extreme southeastern Alberta, eastern Washington, extreme northeastern Oregon, northern and extreme southeastern Idaho, western Montana, extreme western South Dakota (i.e., the Black Hills), extreme western Wyoming, extreme eastern Nevada, nearly all of Utah, Colorado except the eastern third, northern and eastern Arizona, and northern and central New Mexico (Pilsbry 1939; see also Bequaert and Miller 1973). Known also as a Pleistocene fossil in Iowa and Illinois (Pilsbry 1939, Morrison 1943, Frest and Rhodes 1981). Pilsbry (1939) commented on the discontinuities in the northern and northwestern parts of its range (i.e., Washington and Oregon). Disjunct populations are also apparent at the northeastern and southern limits of distribution, some notable examples of such disjunct--probably Pleistocene relictual--populations being those in the Black Hills (South Dakota), the White Mountains (Arizona), and the Sierra Blanca (New Mexico).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AZ, IAextirpated, ID, IL, KS, MT, NM, NN, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
Canada AB, BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Apache (04001)
ID Bannock (16005), Bear Lake (16007), Bonner (16017)*, Clearwater (16035), Custer (16037), Franklin (16041), Idaho (16049), Kootenai (16055), Nez Perce (16069)*, Oneida (16071), Shoshone (16079)
MT Broadwater (30007), Carbon (30009), Fergus (30027), Golden Valley (30037), Meagher (30059), Park (30067)
NV Elko (32007)
OR Umatilla (41059)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
10 Upper Missouri (10030101)+, Judith (10040103)+, Upper Musselshell (10040201)+, Flatwillow (10040203)+*, Box Elder (10040204)+*, Upper Yellowstone (10070002)+, Clarks Fork Yellowstone (10070006)+
14 Middle San Juan (14080105)+, Lower San Juan-Four Corners (14080201)+, Chinle (14080204)+
16 Bear Lake (16010201)+, Middle Bear (16010202)+, Lower Bear-Malad (16010204)+, Upper Humboldt (16040101)+, Long-Ruby Valleys (16060007)+, Spring-Steptoe Valleys (16060008)+
17 Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+*, South Fork Coeur D'alene (17010302)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, Upper Spokane (17010305)+, Portneuf (17040208)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+*, Upper Salmon (17060201)+, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Little Salmon (17060210)+, Lower Selway (17060302)+*, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+, Clearwater (17060306)+, Walla Walla (17070102)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Habitat Comments: Composition of the plant community appears to be of little importance, dominant plant species where it occurs ranging from sagebrush to a wide variety of deciduous shrubs and trees and a similarly wide variety of coniferous shrubs and trees; reported habitats, described in general terms, vary greatly and range from "chaparral" to forest and barren rock slides. Substrate, however, is of great importance, the presence of exposed limestone being almost critical for occurrence; exceptions, however, are well known, there being documented occurrences on sandstone, and occurrences on other substrates probably exist. Slope, too, has been considered to be of importance. Jones (1940) considered the presence of "moisture, lime[stone], and leaf mould" to be of critical importance, colonies being "found chiefly in or near limestone debris at the base of shady cliffs."

Elevational range great: Pilsbry (1939) mentioned localities as low as 800 to 900 feet in Idaho and as high as 10,000 feet in Utah and possibly Montana, and Hoff (1962) reported it at 11,800 feet in New Mexico.

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Terrestrial Snails

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on some evidence of historical or current presence of single or multiple specimens, including live specimens or recently dead shells (i.e., soft tissue still attached without signs of external weathering or staining), at a given location with potentially recurring existence. Weathered shells constitute a historic occurrence. Evidence is derived from reliable published observation or collection data; unpublished, though documented (i.e. government or agency reports, web sites, etc.) observation or collection data; or museum specimen information.
Separation Barriers: Barriers include barriers to dispersal such as the presence of permanent water bodies greater than 30 m in width, permanently frozen areas (e.g. mountaintop glaciers) which generally lack land snails (Frest and Johannes, 1995), or dry, xeric areas with less than six inches precipitation annually, as moisture is required for respiration and often hatching of eggs. For the various slugs and slug-like species (families Arionidae, Philomycidae, Limacidae, Milacidae, Testacellidae, Veronicellidae), absence of suitable moisture, except for the most ubiquitous of species such as Deroceras reticulatum (Müller, 1774), can serve as a barrier to movement (Frest and Johannes, 1995). Members of these groups tend to have greater difficulty crossing areas of little moisture than other pulmonates. For tree snails (family Bulimulidae [= Orthalicidae]), lack of appropriate arboreal habitat (e.g. distance of greater than 500 m) also serves as a separation barrier.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 1 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: None
Separation Justification: Burch and Pearce (1990) suggest refuges may be the most important factor limiting terrestrial snail abundance, although the greatest richness of species among carbonate cliff habitats (one of the most diverse in North America) is associated with calcareous, as opposed to acidic, substrates (Nekola, 1999; Nekola and Smith, 1999). The panmictic unit (a local population in which matings are random) is small relative to those of other animal groups because terrestrial snails tend to be more sedentary. Baker (1958) claimed, "long-distance dispersal of terrestrial gastropods is undoubtedly passive" although short distance dispersal is active involving slow, short distance migration under favorable conditions. Long-distance passive migration is not considered when assigning separation distances, as otherwise separation distances for many animals and plants would be made impracticably large. Passive migration of snails on terrestrial mammals, birds, or insects may occur over longer distances may occur across barriers. Passive migration also may occur by wind or by rafting on floating objects (Vagvolgyi, 1975). A third form of passive migration may occur through human activity such as transport as food, with consumed goods, or for biological control of other organisms.

Terrestrial gastropods do not move much usually only to find food or reproduce. Olfaction is the primary sensory behavior utilized to find and move toward a food item (on the scale of cm to m) although Atkinson (2003) found that Anguispira alternata was capable of switching foraging behavior when snails encountered a physical barrier to movement. Fisher et al (1980) reported maximum movement rate of Rumina decollata (Linnaeus, 1758), an introduced pest species in California spreading relatively rapidly (for a snail), to be 20 m in three months (= 6.67 m/month) in an irrigated orchard. Tupen and Roth (2001) reported the movement rate for the same species in an un-irrigated native scrub on San Nicolas Island to be 0.4 km in 12 years (= 33.33 m/month). South (1965) found in dispersal studies of the slug, Deroceras reticulatum, that slugs traveled a mean distance of 1.13 m in seven days indicating this species disperses little throughout its life. Giokas and Mylonas (2004) found mean dispersal and minimal movement distances were very small (16.2 and 5.4 m, respectively) for Albinaria coerulea, with few individuals dispersing longer distances. Even the most extreme dispersal distances, such as 500 m for the giant African land snail Achatina fulica (Tomiyama and Nakane, 1993), do not approach the scale of km. Viable land snail populations generally occupy small areas. Frest and Johannes (1995) report the largest Oreohelix colony they observed was one mile (1.67 km) long and 0.25 miles (0.41 km) wide while the smallest was six feet (183 cm) long and two feet (61 cm) wide.

As a whole, pulmonates (previously Subclass Pulmonata) are better dispersers than prosobranchs (previously Subclass Prosobranchia) possibly due to their hermaphroditic reproduction increasing the chance of new colonization (Pilsbry, 1948). When compared with prosobranch families, pulmonates generally reproduce at smaller sizes and sooner, produce greater numbers of eggs/young, have larger clutch sizes, greater growth rates, and shorter life cycles (Brown, 1991). Further, prosobranchs' requirement of constant moisture for oxygen exchange limits their ability to colonize drier habitats. Suitable habitat for pulmonate groups tends to be more varied and less restrictive than for prosobranch groups. All of these factors contribute to pulmonates greater dispersal capability over prosobranchs, as evidenced by the wider and more varied distribution of pulmonates over prosobranchs. Despite this, separation distance for both groups is set at the minimum one km as most movements are well within this suggested minimum separation distance.

Date: 26May2004
Author: Cordeiro, J.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 31Aug1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: G. V. Oliver
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14Sep1998

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Andersen, M.D. and B. Heidel. 2011. HUC-based species range maps. Prepared by Wyoming Natural Diversity Database for use in the pilot WISDOM application operational from inception to yet-to-be-determined date of update of tool.

  • Beetle, D.E. 1957. The Mollusca of Teton County, Wyoming. Nautilus 71:12-22.

  • Bequaert, J.C. and W.B. Miller. 1973. The Mollusks of the Arid Southwest with an Arizona Check List. University of Arizona Press: Tucson, Arizona. 271 pp.

  • Brandauer, N.E. 1988. Family Oreohelicidae (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) in Colorado. Natural History Inventory of Colorado 9:1-32.

  • Chamberlin, R.V. and D.T. Jones. 1929. A descriptive catalog of the Mollusca of Utah. Bulletin of the University of Utah, [Biological Series 1(1)] 19(4): 1-203.

  • Frest, T.J. and R.S. Rhodes, II. 1981. Oreohelix strigosa cooperi (Binney) in the Midwest Pleistocene. The Nautilus, 95: 47-55.

  • Gregg, W.O. 1940. Mollusca of Zion National Park, Utah. Nautilus 54:30-32.

  • Gregg, W.O. 1941. Mollusca of Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah. Nautilus 54:116-117.

  • Henderson, J. 1953. Mollusca of the Yellowstone Park, Teton Park and Jackson Hole region. Nautilus 47:1-3.

  • Hoff, C.C. 1962. Some terrestrial Gastropoda from New Mexico. Southwestern Naturalis 7:51-63.

  • Jones, D.T. 1940. A study of the Great basin land snail OREOHELIX STRIGOSA DEPRESSA (Cockerell). Bulletin of the University of Utah [Biological Series 6(1)] 31(4):1-43.

  • Lepitzki, D.A.W. 2001. Gastropods: 2000 preliminary status ranks for Alberta. Unpublished report prepared for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, Edmonton, Alberta. 126 pp.

  • Morrison, J.P.E. 1943. OREOHELIX east of the Mississippi. Nautilus 56:104.

  • Ovaska, K. and L. Sopuck. 2009. Surveys for terrestrial gastropods at risk within Ktunaxa Traditional Territory. Report prepared for British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Victoria, British Columbia. 27 pp.

  • Pilsbry, H. A. 1939-1948. Land Mollusca of North America (north of Mexico). Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Mon. 3, 2 vols., 4 pts.

  • Pilsbry, H. A. 1939a-1948. Land Mollusca of North America (North of Mexico.) George W. Carpenter Fund for the Encouragement of Original Scientific Research, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2107 pp.

  • Rees, B.B. 1988. Electrophoretic and morphological characteristics of two species of OREOHELIX, the mountain snail. Malacological Review 21:129-132.

  • Richardson, L. 1984. Oreohelicidae: catalog of species. Tryonia 10:I+1-30.

  • Spamer, E.E., and A.E. Bogan. 1993. Mollusca of the Grand Canyon and vicinity, Arizona; new and revised data on diversity and distributions, with notes on Pleistocene-Holocene mollusks of the Grand Canyon. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 144:21-68.

  • Turgeon, D.D., J.F. Quinn, Jr., A.E. Bogan, E.V. Coan, F.G. Hochberg, W.G. Lyons, P.M. Mikkelsen, R.J. Neves, C.F.E. Roper, G. Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F.G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.D. Williams. 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Mollusks. 2nd Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 26, Bethesda, Maryland: 526 pp.

  • Vanatta, E.G. 1921. Shells of Zion National Park, Utah. Nautilus 34:140-141.

  • Weaver, K.F., M. Perez-Losada, R.P. Guralnick, A. Nelson, S. Blatt, and K.A. Crandall. 2008. Assessing the conservation status of the land snail Oreohelix peripherica wasatchensis (Family Oreohelicidae). Conservation Genetics, 9: 907-916.

  • Woodbury, A.M. 1929. The snails of Zion National Park. Nautilus 43:54-61.

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