Vertigo meramecensis - Van Devender, 1979
Bluff Vertigo
Other English Common Names: bluff vertigo
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Vertigo meramecensis Van Devender, 1979 (TSN 76839)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.119513
Element Code: IMGAS20190
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)
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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: Vertigo meramecensis
Taxonomic Comments: A recent phylogenetic analysis revealed the species level concept has remained unchanged from what was previously known (Nekola et al., 2009).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 08Apr2010
Global Status Last Changed: 08Oct2002
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: The bluff vertigo is highly vulnerable to large animal traffic, including humans. Few sites are adequately protected. There are only about two dozen occurrences known globally. There may be potentially undiscovered sites in Missouri, but probably few, if any.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (08Oct2002)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Arkansas (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Iowa (S1), Kentucky (S1S3), Minnesota (S2), Missouri (S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: It is restricted to mesic, wooded calcareous cliffs in two disjunct centers of distribution along a 900 km extent focused on the Upper Mississippi River valley and the Ozark Plateau (Nekola et al., 2009). Ranges from southeastern Minnesota through eastern Iowa. Apparently disjunct populations in south-central Missouri.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species was described from specimens collected in 1976 from limestone bluffs south of Huzzah Creek (Meramec River drainage), Crawford Co., Missouri (Van Davender, 1979). There are 18 total known occurrences. Iowa has 13, Missouri has 2 and Minnesota has 3 (Frest 1991). Also, the FMNH has recently collected specimens from Jo Daviess Co., Illinois. Nekola and Coles (2010) documented an occurrence in northern Arkansas on the Missouri border in Marion Co.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Global abundance is estimated to be greater than 10 million individuals (Frest pers. comm. 1994). The Missouri and Minnesota sites have not been sampled with methods to allow quantitative comparison (Frest 1991).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The following threats come from a discussion by Frest (1991). One of the major threats to this species is animal traffic, as this species frequently occupies cliff bases and other areas likely to be used by humans and other large animals for paths and shelters. Grazing, is the single biggest cause of habitat loss for this entire group of snails. Other threats include those that disrupt the physical components of maderate cliffs and algific talus slopes. These threats include physical destruction of the habitat, often in the form of road building, quarrying, etc., and may eliminate entire sites. The filling of upland sinks with trash, soil, etc., disrupts the delicately balanced ecosystem. Presence of agricultural pollutants (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers) over time will alter the community and may be directly toxic to the snails. Clearing vegetation in these habitats leads to increased erosion and further isolation of populations. Collecting and research pressures are a problem, particularly on smaller sites. This species, as mentioned previously, is common to areas where researchers are likely step while traversing a site. Recreational use, such as spelunking or rock climbing, is typically a minor problem, but in certain areas can be devastating. Natural disasters, such as tornadoes, lightning-caused fires, stream cutting and landslides are normally minor, as long as the community is allowed to recover naturally. However, these disasters may become severe if coupled with other ongoing threats.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: There has been decline due to habitat exploitation and degradation.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The habitat of this vertigo is particularily fragile. Land use that disrupts any of the physical characteristics of the habitat, will impact the snail populations. While this particular species can tolerate a number of minor changes, it is highly vulnerable to human and large animal traffic. Due to the patchy nature of this vertigo's habitat, areas where disturbance has caused local extinctions are not likely to be naturally recolonized.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Further inventory is needed in MO to attempt to locate new populations. Quantitative population surveys should be performed in MN and MO to allow comparisons with populations in IA.

Protection Needs: Sites should be protected from habitat alteration. Land acquisition of high quality sites may be appropriate. Upland buffer areas help to protect sites from degradation. Grazing should be actively discouraged near known occurrences. Impacts from human traffic should be examined, and strictly monitored where it is found to be destructive.

Distribution
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Global Range: (250-20,000 square km (about 100-8000 square miles)) It is restricted to mesic, wooded calcareous cliffs in two disjunct centers of distribution along a 900 km extent focused on the Upper Mississippi River valley and the Ozark Plateau (Nekola et al., 2009). Ranges from southeastern Minnesota through eastern Iowa. Apparently disjunct populations in south-central Missouri.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AR, IA, IL, KY, MN, MO

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
IA Allamakee (19005), Clayton (19043), Delaware (19055), Dubuque (19061), Fayette (19065), Jackson (19097), Jones (19105), Linn (19113)
MN Olmsted (27109), Wabasha (27157), Winona (27169)
MO Crawford (29055), Washington (29221)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+, Upper Iowa (07060002)+, Grant-Little Maquoketa (07060003)+, Turkey (07060004)+, Maquoketa (07060006)+, Lower Cedar (07080206)+, Meramec (07140102)+, Big (07140104)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: a land snail
General Description: Shell has 3.5 to 5 whorls, moderately high, slowly expanding spire with subparallel sides but last whorl wider than penultimate. All whorls are distinctly but weakly striate. Suture is comparitively, deeply cinnamon red. Sinulus is almost absent. There are usually 5, white teeth. Crest is absent and the palatal impression weak (Frest, 1991).
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Bare rock/talus/scree, Cliff, Forest - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: A strict calciphile found in decomposed leaf litter on fern and moss-covered ledges and open rock and lichen-covered surfaces of mesic, shaded carbonate cliffs (Nekola et al., 2010). All known sites are forested limestone or dolomite cliffs and outcrops. Sites are generally on steep, moist, shaded, cool north-facing slopes. This species can range onto cliff faces but seldom ventures far into talus. This species has been found algific talus sites and on maderate cliff sites but generally tends to avoid the most typical areas of such sites, i.e. those with the most continuous cooling effects. Common plant associations in IA-MN are deciduous trees such as maples, scattered conifers and yew. Specimens have also been found on cliff faces, under lichen (Hubricht, 1985; Van Devender, 1977; cited in Frest, 1991). On nonalgific sites, the species is often confined to cliff bases and the lower most 20' of the cliff face. It is particularly abundant in the finely pelleted soil of rodent runs in most situations (Frest, 1991).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Research should be performed to look into relationships between nearby EO's, for instance is there sufficient genetic exchange between populations or do they tend to be isolated in particular habitat patches.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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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.

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: 12Apr2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2010); Whittaker, J. C. (1994)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12Apr2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J. (2010); WHITTAKER, J. (1994)

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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  • Barthel, M., and J. C. Nekola. 2000. Scanning electron microscope imaging of minute land snails of Minnesota. Final report submitted to the Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

  • Frest, T. J. 1991. Summary status reports on eight species of candidate land snails from the driftless area (Paleozoic Plateau), Upper Midwest. Final report submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3. 54 pp.

  • Frest, T.J. 1991a. Summary status reports on eight species of candidate land snails from the Driftless Area (Paleozoic Plateau), upper midwest. Final Report to the USFWS. Contract No. 30181-01366.

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

  • Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. 1996. Minnesota's list of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern species. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 16 pp.

  • 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.

  • Ostlie, W. R. 1990. Completion of the algific slope/maderate cliff landsnail survey in Minnesota. Final report submitted to the Division of Ecological Services, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul.. Unpaged.

  • Ostlie, Wayne R. 1990. Completion of the Algific Slope/Maderate Cliff Landsnail Survey in Minnesota. Funded by the MN DNR, Section of Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program and The Nature Conservancy. Results in unpublished report.

  • 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.

  • Van Davender, A.S. 1979. A new Vertigo (Pulmonata: Pupillidae) from the Ozarkian uplift. The Nautilus, 93(2-3): 70-73.

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