2 Land Snails (including slugs)

Land snails are among the under-appreciated groups of wildlife species in Kansas. Along with earthworms and other inhabitants of soil and grass and forest litter, these organisms fulfill important roles in terrestrial ecosystems. They consumer organic matter produced by other species and are themselves consumed by many vertebrates.

There has not been, to my knowledge, an intensive (or semi-intensive) survey of land snails in Kansas for over 50 years. It is known that the ranges of some species are changing and we certainly do not know the existing status – health and ecological well-being – of this important group of animals in Kansas.

snail coinThere are somewhere around 70 species that have been, might have been, or could be found in Kansas. Much of the uncertainty revolves around taxonomy – the science of naming and classifying organisms while some uncertainty revolves around collection bias. This list below is tentative and what constitutes a “species” is sometimes uncertain. The species found represent some 16 families. Most species belong to one of two families: Polygyridae and Vertiginidae.

In 1959, the “Handbook of Gastropods in Kansas”, Leonard (1959) provided a synthesis of collections of both aquatic and terrestrial gastropods. This checklist of Kansas land snails comprises the species found after reviewing existing records (Leonard 1959, Hubricht 1985, Nekola and Coles 2010, publications, museum collection lists) and conducting new collections. The state maps are being updated to display previous observations from published sources as orange, new collections from any of these previous counties as yellow, new counties as green, and counties with museum records as purple. Obviously, the absence of a species from a county does not mean it is not there. The county may not have been collected (especially for new collections as all counties were not visited) or, if collected, a species not found for reasons other than it does not exist there. The state of collections is not sufficient to exclude any species for which habitat and chance might be available. On the other hand, the fact that a species was collected in a county in the past does not mean it still exists there.

A Pocket Guide to the Land Snails of Kansas” is now available from the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, KS. Find it at http://gpnc.org/gift-shop/publications/.

Checklist of Land Snails and Slugs of Kansas


1. click on species name for more information
2. * means there are additional images, videos, or notes
3. no matter where you start, if you go to the bottom of species page, you’ll be able to click to the previous or next page, alphabetically (in most cases)


About this checklist:

The nomenclature is based on Bouchet and Rocroi 2005, with the exception of the family Carychiidae as in Oesch et al. (in press). Including Leonard (1959), the following sources were used as guides for preparing the checklist given here. As always, today, taxonomic schemes can change and not all members of the community necessarily agree on new proposals or identifications.

Basch, P.F., P. Bainer, J. Wilhm. 1961. Some ecological characteristics of the Molluscan fauna of a typical grassland situation in east central Kansas. The American Midland Naturalist. 66(1):178-199.

Bouchet, P. and J.-P. Rocroi. 2005. Classification and Nomenclator of Gastropod Families. Malacologia, 47:1–397.

Burch, J.B. 1962. How to Know the Eastern Land Snails. Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa. 214 pp.

Leonard, A. B. 1959. Handbook of Gastropods in Kansas. With the technical assistance of E.J. Roscoe and others. Museum of Natural History Miscellaneous Publication no. 20. Lawrence: University of Kansas. 224 pp.

Hubricht, L. 1962. New species of Helicodiscus from the eastern United States. Nautilus 75(3):102-107.

Hubricht, L. 1985. The Distributions of the Native Land Mollusks of the Eastern United States. Fieldiana, Zoology. Publication 1359. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois. 191 pp.

Oesch, R.D., L.E. Watrous, and M.C. Barnhart. In press. Land Snails and Slugs of Missouri. Missouri Dept. of Conservation, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Nekola, J.C. and B.F. Coles. 2010. Pupillid land snails of eastern North America. Amer. Malac. Bull. 28: 1-29 (2010)

The cover page of the “Checklist of the Land Snails of Kansas” from the October 2013 issue of Kansas School Naturalist. If you’d like a copy, contact me or go to http://www.emporia.edu/ksn/.





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