> Habitat & Distribution
Leptoxis carinata ranges through Atlantic Coastal drainages from New York to North Carolina (Goodrich 1942, Parodiz 1956, Jokinen 1992), as well as into the New River drainage of southern Virginia and northwestern North Carolina (Dillon & Robinson 2009). It also co-occurs with (ecologically similar) Leptoxis praerosa populations in Holston River tributaries draining southwest Virginia and extreme east Tennessee. Within this wide range, populations of L. carinata inhabit streams and rivers with moderate to strong current and abundant rocky substratum (Miller 1985, Stewart and Garcia 2002). Conservation Status Rank FWGSA-1.
> Ecology & Life History
& Garcia (2002) reported that topographic complexity of
substratum (i.e., rock abundance) was the primary cause of local
variation in Leptoxis carinata
densities and total biomass in a Virginia piedmont stream. Density and
biomass were greatest in topographically complex plots with boulders
and cobble that provide ideal foraging habitat for these periphyton
scrapers, as well as refuge from high-flow events. In such
environments, Leptoxis carinata densities can
individuals per square meter, and this species can constitute more than
80% of total macroinvertebrate biomass (Miller 1985; Stewart and Garcia
2002; Stewart and Dillon 2004). In addition to grazing on
rock-inhabiting diatoms and other algae, L. carinata can
obtain energy and nutrients through shredding leaves (Dillon &
Davis 1991, Dillon 2000).
Population sex ratios are variable, but tend toward female bias (Cipiaris et al. 2012). Aldridge (1982) and Jokinen (1992) reported semelparous reproduction in northern populations of L. carinata, adults maturing in two years (life cycle Hs of Dillon 2000:156-162), although iteroparous reproduction (Hi) seems more likely in the south. Eggs are deposited on hard substrates in the spring or summer, singly or in masses up to an average of 170-400 eggs per female.
> Taxonomy & Systematics
A great variety of generic nomina have been suggested for L. carinata over the years, including Anculosa, Spirodon, Nitocris, and Mudalia (Goodrich 1942, Parodiz 1956). Specific synonyms include dissimilis (Say 1819), nickliniana (Lea 1841), variabilis (Lea 1841), and corpulenta (Anthony 1860). Populations inhabiting Holston drainages of the upper Tennessee, referred to the nomen "virgata" by Goodrich (1940), are indistinguishable from L. carinata in our eyes as well. Parodiz (1956) offered a lovely figure of the shell morphological variation in a single population of L. carinata from Smith River, Virginia.
Dillon & Robinson (2009) nominated L. carinata as one of the "snails the dinosaurs saw," suggesting on the basis of DNA sequence data that populations of these snails may date to the Appalachian orogeny (see my essay of 16Mar09 from the link below.) The data offered in that paper suggested that the nomen Leptoxis dilatata (Conrad 1835), applied for many years to trans-Appalachian Leptoxis populations in the New River, is a junior synonym of L. carinata.
> Supplementary Resources
- North Carolina distribution map [PDF]
- Leptoxis distribution in eastern Tennessee River drainages [PDF]
- Virginia species account with county distribution [PDF]
- Leptoxis carinata in the
South Fork Shenandoah River, courtesy of Alan Cressler.
- Pretty photo of living L. carinata,
courtesy of Chris Lukhaup.
- See my FWGNA post of 16Mar09, The Snails The Dinosaurs Saw, for more on the genetics, taxonomy, and distribution of Leptoxis carinata.
D.W. 1982. Reproductive tactics in
relation to life-cycle bioenergetics in three natural populations of
the freshwater snail, Leptoxis carinata. Ecology
Brown, K.M. 2001. Mollusca: Gastropoda. In: J.H. Thorp and A.P. Covich, eds., Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Invertebrates, Academic Press, New York. Pp. 297-329.
Cipiaris, S., W. F. Henley and J. R. Voshell. 2012. Population sex ratios of pleurocerid snails (Leptoxis spp.): Variability and relationshps with environmental contaminants and conditions. Amer. Malac. Bull. 30: 287 - 298.
Dillon, R.T., Jr. 2000. The Ecology of Freshwater Molluscs. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Dillon, R.T., and K.B. Davis. 1991. The diatoms ingested by freshwater snails: temporal, spatial, and interspecific variation. Hydrobiologia 210: 233-242.
Dillon, R.T., and J.D. Robinson. 2009. The snails the dinosaurs saw: Are the pleurocerid populations of the Older Appalachians a relict of the Paleozoic Era? J. N. Am. Benthol. Soc. 28: 1-11.
Goodrich, C. 1921. Anculosae north of the Alabama drainage. Nautilus 35:9-12.
Goodrich, C. 1940. The Pleuroceridae of the Ohio River drainage system. Occas. Pprs. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich., 417: 1-21.
Goodrich, C. 1942. The Pleuroceridae of the Atlantic coastal plain. Occas. Pprs. Mus. Zool. Univ. Mich., 456, 1-6.
Jokinen, E.H. 1992. The Freshwater Snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of New York State. NY State Mus Bull 482, Albany, New York.
Miller, C. 1985. Correlates of habitat favourability for benthic macroinvertebrates at five stream sites in an Appalachian mountain drainage basin, USA. Freshw Biol 15:709-733.
Parodiz, J. J. 1956. Notes on the freshwater snail Leptoxis (Mudalia) carinata. Annals of the Carnegie Museum 33: 391 - 405.
Stewart, T.W., and R.T. Dillon, Jr. 2004. Species composition and geographic distribution of Virginia’s freshwater gastropod fauna: a review using historical records. Amer Malac Bull 19:79-91.
Stewart, T.W., and J.E. Garcia. 2002. Environmental factors causing local variation in density and biomass of the snail Leptoxis carinata, in Fishpond Creek, Virginia. Amer Midl Natur 148:172-180.