Sunday 19 May
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail (Vertigo angustior)
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Narrow-mouthed whorl snail fact file
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Narrow-mouthed whorl snail description
The shell of the narrow-mouthed whorl snail (Vertigo angustior) is pale yellow-brown in colour with many thin growth ridges and 5 whorls. The mouth of the shell has five to six teeth and is thickened (2). The shell is sinistral, which means the body whorls are coiled in a clockwise direction with the mouth opening on the left-hand side of the body (4).Top
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail biology
Little is known of the biology of this species. Recent studies indicate an annual life-cycle with reproduction taking place mainly in late summer. In common with most members of the genus, the narrow-mouthed whorl snail is believed to feed on micro-fungi growing on dead and decaying plant remains (6).Top
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail range
This species is widely distributed but threatened in central Europe, and extends north to southern Norway and Sweden (5). The narrow-mouthed whorl snail is one of Britain's rarest land snails (5), and is currently known from just twelve scattered sites in the UK (4).Top
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail habitat
Inhabits un-shaded short, damp grass, moss or short herbs on marshes (3) or amongst leaf litter on limestone pavement (4). The largest population of the narrow-mouthed whorl snail in the UK occurs where freshwater seeps onto the margins of a saltmarsh, but in Europe the most frequent habitat is calcareous fenland (5).Top
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail statusTop
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail threats
Although the reasons for the rarity of this snail are not known (7), it seems that the main factors involved are the sensitivity of its habitat to changes in hydrological conditions, physical disturbance and changes in the grazing regime (3). At one site in Suffolk, shading by reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and tall herbs may have contributed to a local decline in the species (7).Top
Narrow-mouthed whorl snail conservation
The tiny narrow-mouthed whorl snail has been identified as a Priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). The Species Action Plan aims to maintain, protect and enhance all known populations. Three of the sites supporting this species are National Nature Reserves, a further five are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or Areas of Scientific Interest (ASSIs). Four of the populations are designated features on candidate Special Areas of Conservation, a European site designation stemming from the EC Habitats Directive (4).
A research project funded by the Countryside Council for Wales into the ecology of this species and that of V. geyeri, another endangered snail, was completed in 2001 (8).Top
Find out more
See the website of the Countryside Council for Wales:
Information authenticated by Adrian Fowles of the Countryside Council for Wales:
- Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
- In animals, the spiral or convolutions in the shell of a snail. In plants, a set of leaves, flowers, or branches that spring from a stem at the same point and encircle it.
IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
- Kerney, M.P. & Cameron, R.A.D. (1979) A field guide to the land snails of Britain and north-west Europe. William Collins and Sons & Co Ltd, London.
UK BAP Species Action Plan (Jan 2002):
- Fowles, A. Countryside Council for Wales (July 2003) Pers. comm.
JNCC (Jan 2002):
- Cameron, R.A.D. et al. 2003. Species Accounts for snails of the genus Vertigo listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive: V. angustior, V. genesii, V. geyeri and V. moulinsiana (Gastropoda, Pulmonata: Vertiginidae). Heldia, 5: 151-170.
Suffolk County Council. (Jan 2002):
- Cameron, R.A.D. 2003. Life-cycles, molluscan and botanical associations of Vertigo angustior and Vertigo geyeri (Gastropoda, Pulmonata: Vertiginidae). Heldia, 5: 95-110.
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