Vertigo elatior - Sterki, 1894
Tapered Vertigo
Other English Common Names: Tapered Vertigo Snail
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Vertigo elatior Sterki, 1894 (TSN 76834)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112235
Element Code: IMGAS20140
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Terrestrial Snails
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Stylommatophora Pupillidae Vertigo
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
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: Vertigo elatior
Taxonomic Comments: Although Vertigo ventricosa is reported by Hubricht (1985) as far west as Illinois and as far south as North Carolina, observation of Hubricht's voucher material indicates that none of this outlying material represents this species; all material reported from west of central New York state represent immature Vertigo elatior, while the southern Appalachian material appears to represent various forms of Vertigo gouldii (Nekola, 2008).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Apr2010
Global Status Last Changed: 01Oct2004
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Nekola and Coles (2010) provide a range across northern U.S. from Maine across to Illinois and north to Wisconsin and North Dakota; and in Canada from the maritime provinces across west to Manitoba and as far north as the southern Bay of Fundy.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (01Oct2004)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4 (14Jan2005)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Arizona (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (SU), Kansas (SH), Maine (SNR), Maryland (SX), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (SX), Montana (SNR), Nebraska (SX), New Mexico (SNR), New York (SNR), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (SH), South Dakota (SNR), Texas (SH), Utah (SH), Vermont (SNR), Virginia (SH), West Virginia (SX), Wisconsin (S3), Wyoming (SNR)
Canada British Columbia (SH), Newfoundland Island (SNR), Ontario (S2S3), Quebec (SNR)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Nekola and Coles (2010) provide a range across northern U.S. from Maine across to Illinois and north to Wisconsin and North Dakota; and in Canada from the maritime provinces across west to Manitoba and as far north as the southern Bay of Fundy.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Oliver and Bosworth (1999) recorded it in Utah only once, the locality being 2.8 miles west of Vernal, Uintah Co. (Brooks, 1936). In West Virginia, Brooks and Kutchka (1938) recorded it from Leetown, Jefferson Co. as fossil or subfossil which was supported by Hubricht (1985). Hubricht (1985) also reported subfossil or fossil material from northern Texas, southwestern Kansas, south-central Iowa, central and southern Illinois and neighboring Missouri, southern Indiana, and extreme northern Virginia; but these records do not represent modern distribution. It occurs in eastern Maine (16 of 101 sites) largely limited to the Aroostook Lowlands biogphysical region including Woodland Fen (Nekola, 2008). Nekola (2004) documented it from 58 stations in northeastern Wisconsin to the upper peninsula of Michigan. In New York, Hotopp and Pearce (2007) report it from five counties. Lepitzki (2001) considers the type specimen for Vertigo gouldii lagganensis (collected near Lake Louise in Alberta) a synonym of Vertigo elatior (based on Pilsbry, 1948) but this is likely incorrect; and it is more likely a synonym of Vertigo arthuri (see Nekola et al., 2009). Similarly, reports for British Columbia (Forsyth, 1999; 2004) and Montana (Forsyth, 1999) are also likely V. arthuri.

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Nekola and Coles (2010) provide a range across northern U.S. from Maine across to Illinois and north to Wisconsin and North Dakota; and in Canada from the maritime provinces across west to Manitoba and as far north as the southern Bay of Fundy.

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, IA, IL, IN, KS, MA, MDextirpated, ME, MI, MN, MOextirpated, MT, ND, NEextirpated, NM, NY, OH, OK, SD, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI, WVextirpated, WY
Canada BC, NF, ON, QC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MI Cheboygan (26031)*, Chippewa (26033), Delta (26041), Mackinac (26097), Schoolcraft (26153)
UT Uintah (49047)*
WI Brown (55009), Calumet (55015), Door (55029), Dunn (55033), Kewaunee (55061), Manitowoc (55071), Marinette (55075), Oconto (55083), Ozaukee (55089), Washington (55131), Waushara (55137)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Tahquamenon (04020202)+, Manitowoc-Sheboygan (04030101)+, Door-Kewaunee (04030102)+, Duck-Pensaukee (04030103)+, Peshtigo (04030105)+, Menominee (04030108)+, Fishdam-Sturgeon (04030112)+, Upper Fox (04030201)+, Milwaukee (04040003)+, Brevoort-Millecoquins (04060107)+, Carp-Pine (04070002)+, Cheboygan (04070004)+*
07 Lower Chippewa (07050005)+, Upper Rock (07090001)+
14 Ashley-Brush (14060002)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 08Apr2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.

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

  • Brooks, S.T. 1936. Some mollusks from Utah. The Nautilus 50:13-14.

  • Brooks, S.T. and G.M. Kutchka. 1938. Occurrence of the family Pupillidae in West Virginia. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 27:63-85.

  • Dourson, D. C. 2015. Land snails of West Virginia. Goatslug Publications, Bakersville, North Carolina. 412 pp.

  • Forsyth, R.G. 1999. Distribution of nine new or little-known exotic land snails in British Columbia. The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 113(4): 559-568.

  • Forsyth, R.G. 1999. Terrestrial gastropods of the Columbia basin, British Columbia. Living Landscapes project, Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria, British Columbia, 133 pp.

  • Forsyth, R.G. 2004b. Land Snails of British Columbia. Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 188 pp.

  • Frest, T.J. and E.J. Johannes. 1993. Land snail survey of the Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota and Wyoming. Unpublished report to the USDA Forest Service Black Hills National Forest and USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, South Dakota. 273 pp.

  • Hotopp, K. and T.A. Pearce. 2007. Land snails in New York: statewide distribution and talus site faunas. Final Report for contract #NYHER 041129 submitted to New York State Biodiversity Research Institute, New York State Museum, Albany, New York. 91 pp.

  • Hubricht, L. 1985. The distribution of the native land mollusks of the eastern United States. Fieldiana: Zoology, 24:1-191.

  • 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.

  • Nekola, J.C. 2003 [2004]. Terrestrial gastropod fauna of northeastern Wisconsin and the southern upper peninsula of Michigan. American Malacological Bulletin, 18(1/2): 21-44.

  • Nekola, J.C. 2008. Land snail ecology and biogeography of eastern Maine. Final report submitted to: Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Aroostook Hills and Lowlands Inventory, January 27, 2008. 119 pp.

  • Nekola, J.C. and B.F. Coles. 2010. Pupillid land snails of eastern North America. American Malacological Bulletin 28:29-57.

  • Nekola, J.C., B.F. Coles, and U. Bergthorsson. 2009. Evolutionary pattern and process within the Vertigo gouldii (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Pupillidae) group of minute North American land snails. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53:1010-1024.

  • Oliver, G.V. and W.R. Bosworth, III. 1999. Rare, imperiled, and recently extinct or extirpated mollusks of Utah. Report ot the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Publication Number 99-29, Salt Lake City, Utah. 231 pp.

  • Pilsbry, H.A. 1948. Land Mollusca of North America (north of Mexico). Monograph of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 2(2): 521-1113.

  • 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.

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