Conservation status of freshwater gastropods of Canada and the United States

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This is the first American Fisheries Society conservation assessment of freshwater gastropods (snails) from Canada and the United States by the Gastropod Subcommittee (Endangered Species Committee). This review covers 703 species representing 16 families and 93 genera, of which 67 species are considered extinct, or possibly extinct, 278 are endangered, 102 are threatened, 73 are vulnerable, 157 are currently stable, and 26 species have uncertain taxonomic status. Of the entire fauna, 74% of gastropods are imperiled (vulnerable, threatened, endangered) or extinct, which exceeds imperilment levels in fishes (39%) and crayfishes (48%) but is similar to that of mussels (72%). Comparison of modern to background extinction rates reveals that gastropods have the highest modern extinction rate yet observed, 9,539 times greater than background rates. Gastropods are highly susceptible to habitat loss and degradation, particularly narrow endemics restricted to a single spring or short stream reaches. Compilation of this review was hampered by a paucity of current distributional information and taxonomic uncertainties. Although research on several fronts including basic biology, physiology, conservation strategies, life history, and ecology are needed, systematics and curation of museum collections and databases coupled with comprehensive status surveys (geographic limits, threat identification) are priorities.

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