16 August 2009

Cepaea nemoralis in North America

Our recent discovery of the European land snail Cepaea nemoralis in Maryland (see the posts here and here) has aroused my interest in this species. Since we will write a manuscript eventually, I am now in the process of collecting the relevant literature and learning about not only the history of C. nemoralis in North America, but also its biology.

The earliest recorded introduction of C. nemoralis in North America was that of W. G. Binney in 1857 in Burlington, New Jersey. This information is in the 2nd edition of Report on the Invertebrata of Massachusetts (available here). The 1st edition of that report, prepared by A. A. Gould, was published in 1841. Gould died in 1866 while preparing the 2nd edition and Binney took over the project as the editor. The 2nd edition was published in 1870 with the names of both Gould and Binney. Under Helix hortensis (=C. hortensis), there is this statement concerning Helix nemoralis (=C. nemoralis): "In 1857 I imported some hundred specimens from near Sheffield, England, and freed them in my garden at Burlington, New Jersey. They have thriven well and increased with great rapidity, so that now (1869) the whole town is full of them." Since Gould died in 1866, Binney must have written that first-person narrative.

Although Reed (1964) cited two 19th century records of C. nemoralis from Canada, those may have been based on specimens of the similar C. hortensis. The earliest reliable record of the species from Canada is probably that from Owen Sound, Ontario given by Pilsbry (1928). Those snails had apparently originated in France.

There have been other intentional and unintentional introductions of C. nemoralis over the years (Reed 1964). New colonies are occasionally discovered in places where the snail was not seen before. For example, see Whitson (2005) for the account of a colony recently discovered in Kenton County, Kentucky (no date given in the paper). C. nemoralis may be slowly dispersing throughout North America.

I will leave the discussion of the evolutionary aspects of the biology of C. nemoralis for a future post.

Pilsbry, H.A. 1928. Helix nemoralis L. in Ontario. Nautilus 42:42-43.
Reed, C.F. 1964. Cepaea nemoralis (Linn.) in eastern North America.
Sterkiana 16:11-18.
Whitson, M. 2005.
Cepaea nemoralis (Gastropoda, Helicidae): The Invited Invader. Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science 66:82-88.


xoggoth said...

How come we send you nice little British snails that cause no harm and you send us Crayfish and Squirrels that wipe out our native species? AND you gave the Australians horrible Cane Toads.

Typical Yanks. We are plotting our revenge, be sure of it.

Anonymous said...

We'll take back our crayfish and squirrels if you'll come over and eradicate our starlings and English sparrows. Unfortunately, the alien species game is an equal opportunity disaster. Even those nice Kiwis are taking their revenge by loosing Potamopyrgus antipodarum on an unsuspecting world.


xoggoth said...

Starling and sparrows? Harmless little Cockney creatures.

American Crayfish on the other hand - only last week a group of them mugged a pensioner in our town. Grey Squirrels hang around the park peddling crack cocaine.

George said...

If you are interested in Cepaea in the US, you might want to correspond
with James Atkinson at Michigan State University:

At least one of his grad students wrote his dissertation on C. nemoralis:

Kevin Bonham said...

Is it known what Binney's motive for introducing the species was?


I don't know what Binney's motive was.

Thomas of Armistead Gardens said...

Do you know where Grimm lived in Baltimore City when he released these snails?


Reed (1964) gave Grimm's address as "Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland". I checked a few of Grimm's earliest papers in the Nautilus from the late 50s, but he didn't have an address.