Snail Survey In Vermont Becomes An Annual Event
By Harry G. Lee

    Continuing in the relatively new annual tradition, my wife's family, three generations, in-laws included, convened of an Indian Summer reunion at The Homestead. Located just north of Manchester Ctr., it is sited in the valley of the famous Batten Kill amongst the northernmost of the Taconic Range, with the peaks of Mts. Equinox, Little Equinox, Owl's Head, Aeolus, Netop and Dorset defining the southern and western skyline.

    Three years ago, while the other participants were occupied with mountain-climbing, shopping sprees, tractoring about, or TV football viewing, I began the practice of setting out for a fieldtrip or two during each weekend event, 2003: <http://www.jaxshells.org/vermont.htm>, and the Jan.-Feb., 2004 Shell-O-Gram 45(1): 2-6; 2004:  <http://www.jaxshells.org/vermontnew.htm> and the Sept.-Dec., 2004 Shell-O-Gram 45(5): 6-8.

    Each of the last two years I have made two collecting trips - one to a marble quarry new to my itinerary and one to a former station on the bank of West Branch (of the Batten Kill) walking distance from headquarters. These two ecosystems differ considerably: montane hardwood forest with a microhabitat rich in calcium vs. the perennially very wet, mostly herbaceous riparian lowland with a relative lack of calcium. As the reader can see (below), the two support Oxyloma retusum (I. Lea, 1834) Blunt Ambersnailsomewhat different faunas as one might expect. This is particularly evident in the most abundant species (e. g., Cochlicopa lubrica, Carychium exiguum, Gastrocopta tappaniana, Vertigo elatior, Oxyloma retusum, and Zonitoides nitidus in the wet lowland vs. all other Gastrocopta spp., Vertigo gouldii, Discus catskillensis, Nesovitrea binneyana, Striatura spp., Zonitoides arboreus, and the largest snails (Polygyridae in the main) at the quarry sites. Despite this collecting strategy, when the reader views the cumulative species account in the lists below, it will be clear that I have gone well past the point of diminishing returns. Nonetheless, there are few new and exciting finds as well as better and occasionally far more numerous specimens to be studied. Add to this the simple enjoyment the Vermont landscape, and one might understand why these annual surveys offer a simple pleasure to which I have come to look forward.

    Here follows an account of the field trips of the last two years. Particularly noteworthy are the discovery of a nice living colony of Vertigo elatior near The Homestead, the first Guppya sterkii in New England, and the elusive Gastrocopta corticaria, which I have never found alive in half a century of landsnailing.

[Click on the individual species depicted in the two composite micrographs below for a more detailed image.]

Grass and soil sample, left bank West Branch (of the Batten Kill), 1 mi. NNE Manchester Center, Bennington Co., VT. H. Lee! 9:30-10 AM, Sun., 10/2/05.

Cochlicopa lubrica (Müller, 1774) Glossy Pillar
Carychium exiguum (Say, 1822) Obese Thorn
Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column
        Gastrocopta tappaniana (C. B. Adams, 1842) White Snaggletooth (44)
        Vertigo elatior Sterki, 1894 Tapered Vertigo (44; replaces misidentified V. pygmaea)
Vertigo ovata Say, 1822 Ovate Vertigo
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot   See: scanning electron micrograph
Oxyloma retusum (I. Lea, 1834) Blunt Ambersnail
Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
Nesovitrea electrina (Gould, 1841) Amber Glass
        Glyphyalinia wheatleyi (Bland, 1883)  Bright Glyph (45)
Zonitoides nitidus (Müller, 1774) Black Gloss

12 species, three new county records, of which three (indented) are state records; (cumulative Bennington Co. species count).

Leaf litter sample, Gettysburg (marble) Quarry, 2 mi. N.E. Dorset, Bennington Co., VERMONT. H. Lee! 11:00-11:30 AM , Sun., 10/2/05.

Cochlicopa morseana (Doherty, 1878) Appalachian Pillar
Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column
Gastrocopta contracta (Say, 1822) Bottleneck Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta tappaniana (C. B. Adams, 1841) White Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta pentodon (Say, 1822) Comb Snaggletooth
Vertigo gouldii (A. Binney, 1843) Variable Vertigo
        Vallonia pulchella (Müller, 1774) Lovely Vallonia (46)
Vallonia costata (Müller, 1774) Costate Vallonia    See: scanning electron micrograph
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot
Discus catskillensis (Pilsbry, 1896) Angular Disc    See: scanning electron micrograph
Discus whitneyi (Newcomb, 1864) Forest Disc (47)   See: scanning electron micrograph
Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
        Guppya sterkii (Dall, 1888) Tiny Granule (48) First record from New England!
Glyphyalinia rhoadsi (Pilsbry, 1889) Sculpted Glyph (49)
Nesovitrea binneyana (E. S. Morse, 1864) Blue Glass
Striatura exigua (Stimpson, 1850) Ribbed Striate    See: scanning electron micrograph
Striatura ferrea E. S. Morse, 1864 Black Striate
Zonitoides arboreus (Say, 1817) Quick Gloss
Euchemotrema fraternum (Say, 1821) Upland Pillsnail
Neohelix albolabris (Say, 1817) Whitelip
Triodopsis tridentata (Say, 1817) Northern Threetooth
Xolotrema denotatum (Férussac, 1821) Velvet Wedge

22 species, four new county records, of which the two indented are state records (cumulative Bennington Co. species count).

Return to sodden low area, on stems of grasses, wildflowers and nettles plus soil and vegetation sample, left bank West Branch (of the Batten Kill), 1 mi. NNE Manchester Ctr., Bennington Co., VERMONT. H. G. Lee! 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM, Fri., 9/15/06.

Cochlicopa lubrica (Müller, 1774) Glossy Pillar
Carychium exiguum (Say, 1822) Obese Thorn
Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column
Gastrocopta tappaniana (C. B. Adams, 1841) White Snaggletooth
Vertigo elatior Sterki, 1894 Tapered Vertigo [14 specimens, all alive; only one taken on 10/05 visit]
Vertigo ovata Say, 1822 Ovate Vertigo
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot
Oxyloma retusum (I. Lea, 1834) Blunt Ambersnail
Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
Nesovitrea electrina (Gould, 1841) Amber Glass
Zonitoides nitidus (Müller, 1774) Black Gloss

11 species; no addenda.


Leaf litter sample, Freedley (marble) Quarry, 4 mi. NNE Dorset, Bennington Co., VERMONT. H. Lee! 12 noon to 1:00 PM Sat., 9/16/06.

Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column
Gastrocopta corticaria (Say, 1817) Bark Snaggletooth (50)  scanning electron micrograph
Vertigo gouldii (A. Binney, 1843) Variable Vertigo
Vallonia costata (Müller, 1774) Costate Vallonia
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot
Discus catskillensis (Pilsbry, 1896) Angular Disc
Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
Nesovitrea electrina (Gould, 1841) Amber Glass
Nesovitrea binneyana (E. S. Morse, 1864) Blue Glass
Striatura exigua (Stimpson, 1850) Ribbed Striate
Striatura ferrea E. S. Morse, 1864 Black Striate
Striatura milium (E. S. Morse, 1859) Fine-ribbed Striate

12 species; one new county record; only three other New England county records for Bark Snaggletooth (cumulative Bennington Co. species list count).


    Cumulative list of landsnails collected in Bennington Co., VT.  The last update was reported in Shell-O-Gram 45(5), Sept.-Dec., 2004. The current tally includes eight addenda resulting from the 10/2/05 and 9/16/06 collections and marked with asterisks. There is one deletion: Vertigo pygmaea, which was previously considered a new county record.

Carychium exile H. C. Lea, 1842 Ice Thorn
Carychium exiguum (Say, 1822) Obese Thorn
Cochlicopa lubrica (Müller, 1774) Glossy Pillar
        Cochlicopa morseana (Doherty, 1878) Appalachian Pillar
        Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column
Gastrocopta armifera (Say, 1821) Armed Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta contracta (Say, 1822) Bottleneck Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta corticaria (Say, 1817) Bark Snaggletooth *
Gastrocopta pentodon (Say, 1822) Comb Snaggletooth
        Gastrocopta tappaniana (C. B. Adams, 1841) White Snaggletooth *
Pupoides albilabris (C. B. Adams, 1841) White-lip Dagger
        Vertigo elatior Sterki, 1894 Tapered Vertigo *
        Vertigo gouldii (A. Binney, 1843) Variable Vertigo
Vertigo ovata Say, 1822 Ovate Vertigo    
Vertigo ventricosa
(E. S. Morse, 1865) Five-tooth Vertigo
        Vallonia costata (Müller, 1774) Costate Vallonia
Vallonia excentrica Sterki, 1893 Iroquois Vallonia
         Vallonia pulchella (Müller, 1774) Lovely Vallonia *
Haplotrema concavum (Say, 1821) Gray-foot Lancetooth
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot
Helicodiscus parallelus (Say, 1817) Compound Coil
Helicodiscus shimeki Hubricht, 1962 Temperate Coil
Anguispira alternata (Say, 1817) Flamed Tigersnail
Discus catskillensis (Pilsbry, 1896) Angular Disc
Discus whitneyi (Newcomb, 1864) Forest Disc *
Catinella vermeta (Say, 1829) Suboval Ambersnail
Novisuccinea ovalis (Say, 1817) Oval Ambersnail
Oxyloma retusum (I. Lea, 1834) Blunt Ambersnail
Euconulus fulvus (Müller, 1774) Brown Hive
        Guppya sterkii Dall, 1888) Tiny Granule; first record from New England! *
Glyphyalinia indentata (Say, 1823) Carved Glyph
Glyphyalinia rhoadsi (Pilsbry, 1889) Sculpted Glyph *
        
Glyphyalinia wheatleyi  (Bland, 1883) Bright Glyph *
Hawaiia minuscula (A. Binney, 1841) Minute Gem
Mesomphix cupreus (Rafinesque, 1831) Copper Button
Mesomphix inornatus (Say, 1821) Plain Button
         Nesovitrea binneyana (E. S. Morse, 1864) Blue Glass
Nesovitrea electrina (Gould, 1841) Amber Glass
Paravitrea multidentata (A. Binney, 1841) Dentate Supercoil
Striatura exigua (Stimpson, 1850) Ribbed Striate
Striatura ferrea E. S. Morse, 1864 Black Striate
Striatura milium (E. S. Morse, 1859) Fine-ribbed Striate
Zonitoides arboreus (Say, 1817) Quick Gloss
Zonitoides nitidus (Müller, 1774) Black Gloss
Vitrina angelicae Beck, 1837 Eastern Glass-snail
Appalachina sayana (Pilsbry, 1906) Spike-lip Crater
Euchemotrema fraternum (Say, 1821) Upland Pillsnail
Neohelix albolabris (Say, 1817) Whitelip
Triodopsis tridentata (Say, 1817) Northern Threetooth
Xolotrema denotatum (Férussac, 1821) Velvet Wedge

50 species; 23 new county records, of which 10 are new state records (indented) vs. Hubricht (1985).

    As noted in the Jan.-Feb., 2004 Shell-O-Gram report, the only other VT county with a substantial number of recorded landsnail occurrences is nearby Windsor, which has a relatively paltry 20 species (Hubricht, 1985). Would an energetic collector be able to demonstrate that the difference between these neighboring jurisdictions is due to nothing more than lack of field work? Probably so, but just maybe there's something especially salubrious for the snails inhabiting this corner of the state. Maybe someday we'll discover the answer.

A version of this communication appeared in print:
Lee, H. G., 2008 ["September, 2006 - June, 2007"]. Native snail surveys in Bennington County, Vermont. New York Shell Club Notes 377: 8-15. April.

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