The state’s molluscan fauna was first catalogued by
(1848) and then by Mazyck (1913), the latter contributing his own
scattered observations (primarily from the Charleston area) to a
thorough survey of the literature. Mazyck compiled a list of 43
freshwater gastropod species, citing an example locality if one was
known to him or a published reference if he himself had made no
confirming collection. Subsequent taxonomic revisions would reduce
Mazyck’s list to 28 species by synonymy, and many of his
remaining entries are dubious. Much more recently, The Nature
Conservancy has established NatureServe, an organization that maintains
an on-line catalogue of biotic diversity. A query to the NatureServe
database in February 2005 returned a list of 32 freshwater gastropod
species in South Carolina, although no locality data (nor references of
any sort) are available.
Although perhaps not as environmentally heterogeneous as neighboring states, South Carolina does include some land form diversity. The state has traditionally been divided into three physiographic provinces, corresponding closely with US Forest Service “Ecoregions” as well as with USDA plant hardiness zones. The (rather low) fall line runs diagonally across the middle of the state, from Cheraw in the northeast, through the capital city of Columbia, to Augusta (GA) in the southwest. Thus the state may be divided into its Atlantic Coastal Plain Province in the southeast and its Piedmont Province through most of the northwest. The three most northwestern counties of the state contact a third physiographic province, the Blue Ridge. In South Carolina the Blue Ridge Province is equivalent to the “Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest” ecoregion, and to USDA plant hardiness zone 7a (average annual minimum temperature 0 – 5°C). The Piedmont is equivalent to the “Southeastern Mixed Forest” ecoregion, or USDA zone 7b (5 – 10°C ). The Coastal Plain is equivalent to the “Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest” ecoregion and primarily zone 8a (10 – 15°C.) There is a small strip of USDA plant hardiness zone 8b (average annual minimum temperature 15 – 20°C) along the southern coast.
The surface geology of South Carolina is almost entirely sedimentary and quite sandy, with small regions of Paleozoic granite in the extreme northwest. There are three major river systems, all of which originate in the mountains of western North Carolina and flow southeast to the Atlantic: the Pee Dee, the Broad/Catawba/Santee, and the Savannah. The state also contains several smaller coastal plain drainages: the Black, the Ashley/Cooper, the Ashepoo/Combahee/Edisto and the Coosawhatchie.
The state was deforested by timber interests beginning in the early eighteenth century, and intensive row crop agriculture through the ensuing 200 years led to severe erosion. Although today’s land use practices are much improved, most South Carolina rivers now carry heavy burdens of sediment, and solid substrate is rare (Harding et al. 1998). The first half of the twentieth century saw most of the major rivers impounded for hydroelectric power. The “Santee-Cooper Project” created Lakes Marion and Moultrie, diverting most of the flow of the Santee River down the (previously minor) Cooper River into Charleston Harbor. Other large impoundments in the Santee system include Lakes Greenwood and Murray on the Saluda River west of Columbia and Lake Wateree north of Columbia. The Savannah River was dammed at four points upstream from Augusta, creating a series of lakes from its headwaters to the fall line. Although the Pee Dee River has escaped impoundment in South Carolina, several large dams in North Carolina have doubtless impacted its habitat quality.
The freshwater environment of South Carolina has unquestionably seen tremendous change since Mazyck’s 1913 catalogue. Meanwhile, modern improvements in transportation have made comprehensive field surveys of large scope feasible, and modern methods of information processing have made data retrieval convenient. The purpose of this web site, and of a larger publication expected to follow in several years, is to document the freshwater gastropod fauna of South Carolina as it has come to us today, with an eye toward conservation efforts in the future.
Recently the US Environmental Protection Agency has coordinated a joint effort involving the USGS, the US Forest Service, state natural resource agencies, and conservation groups aimed at producing a uniform system of ecoregions. This system features four tiers. At Level I, the entire state of South Carolina is classified as "Eastern Temperate Forest." The three Level II ecoregions recognized in South Carolina correspond to the the USFS ecoregions outlined in the introduction above. At Level III, the USEPA recognizes five ecoregions in this state: Blue Ridge, Piedmont, Southeastern Plains, Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain, and Southern Coastal Plain. This most recent, USEPA System of Ecoregions has been adopted for the present survey.
The database as of August 2010 contains 1,077 records. A nucleus
104 records dates from 1988, when I was awarded a small grant by the SC
Heritage Trust to survey the state for Pleurocera (formerly
(Dillon 1988). I visited 233 sites in connection with the work, which I
combined with data from 447 sites visited by my colleague E. P. Keferl
and ultimately published in the proceedings of the Freshwater Mollusk
Conservation Society (Dillon & Keferl 2000). Although only 44
these sites were positive for pleurocerids, I used the opportunity to
collect freshwater gastropods of all species, and the present survey
A major contribution to the effort was made by Mr. Jim Glover, who made available the extensive macrobenthos collections of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC personnel annually take semi-quantitative macrobenthos samples at hundreds of sites throughout the state in connection with their water quality monitoring responsibilities. I was given access to sorted voucher-type freshwater gastropod collections dating into the 1970s, plus entire (unsorted) macrobenthos samples taken 1989 – 1994, from which I extracted approximately 200 records.
My colleague Will Reeves made available to me the Entomology Collection at Clemson University, which included 31 freshwater snail records among the aquatic insect samples, and contributed numerous personally-collected samples from the upstate. Mr. Jeremy W. Pike of the SCDNR was also most forthcoming with his personally-collected records, which total approximately 200 to date.
The taxonomy employed by the FWGNA project is painstakingly researched, well-reasoned and insightful. Needless to say, it often differs strikingly from the gastropod taxonomy in common currency among casual users and natural resource agencies. First-time visitors looking for information about particular species or genera might profitably begin their searches with a check for synonyms in our alphabetical index.
The contributions of Jim Glover, Will Reeves, and
been detailed above. Assistance in the field was
also provided by Bryan England, Arnie Eversole, Jacob
David Knott, Laura Kirk, Larry McCord, David McLean, John Robinson, Amy
Wethington, John Wise, and especially
by my student and colleague Tom Smith, whose enthusiam during
the 2002-03 field season is gratefully acknowledged.
For help with the mapping effort I thank Norm Levine and especially Doug Florian, without whose GIS skills this project would have remained an ugly heap of data. Ms. Jasmine Wu designed the version of this site on line 2003 - 2005, and Mr. Steve Bleezarde has overseen its subsequent expansion and refinement.
Dillon, R. T., Jr. 1988.
The status of the catenate river snail, Goniobasis catenaria, in South
Carolina. Report to the SC Heritage Trust. Columbia, SC. 16
Dillon, R. T., Jr., & E. P. Keferl. 2000. A survey of the pleurocerid gastropods of South Carolina. Pp. 153 – 160 in Freshwater Mollusk Symposium Proceedings (Tankersley, Warmolts, Watters, Armitage, Johnson & Butler, eds.). Columbus, OH, Ohio Biological Survey.
Gibbes, L. 1848. Mollusca. Appendix pp. xix – xxii in Report on the Geology of South Carolina (M. Tuomey, ed.).
Harding, J., E. Benfield, P. Bolstad, G. Helfman, & E. Jones. 1998. Stream biodiversity: The ghost of land use past. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95: 14843 - 14847.
Mazyck, W. 1913. Catalog of Mollusca of South Carolina. Contributions from the Charleston Museum, Vol. II. (P. Rea, ed.). Charleston, SC, Charleston Museum. 39 pp.