FWGNA > Species Accounts > Hydrobiidae > Fontigens orolibas
Fontigens orolibas (Hubricht 1957)

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> Habitat & Distribution

Fontigens orolibas inhabits springs and cave streams from the Potomac River basin of southern Pennsylvania southwest to the Clinch and Holston Rivers of southwestern Virginia, including parts of the New and Roanoke River basins (Hershler et al. 1990).  In our study area, populations are  not uncommonly encountered in springs and wet seeps at the crest of the Blue Ridge along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (Hubricht 1957).  We also have scattered records further south in the Roanoke, New and upper Tennessee drainages.  

The animals themselves are very pale and seem to shun the light, being found underneath stones and leaves very near their springhead.  Population densities become rapidly attenuated downstream, as though dependent on constant temperature or some other unique aspect of the spring environment.  FWGNA incidence rank I-4.

> Ecology & Life History

The cryptic habit of F. orolibas seems to suggest a diet that does not ordinarily include algae, but rather very fine organic matter or bacteria, and possibly a subterranean lifestyle.  We are not aware of any good study on the life history of Fontigens, but populations typically seem to maintain high densities year round, as though reproduction might be continuous.  The springs at the crest of the Blue Ridge inhabited by Fontigens orolibas are quite soft, but elsewhere the species seems to inhabit harder waters.

> Taxonomy & Systematics

Hydrobioids of the subfamily Fontigentinae bear a rather striking multiply-lobed penis.  While their species-level taxonomy has been stable since the monograph of Hershler and colleagues (1990), their assignment to the Hydrobiidae (ss) by Wilke et al. (2013) was rather tentative.

> Supplementary Resources [PDF]

> Essays

  • I wrote a blog post inspired by a day of hunting for Fontigens orolibas on 26July06 entitled "Springsnails of the Blue Ridge."  Several photos are included with that essay, including one of a living F. orolibas compared to F. nickliniana.
  • Earlier versions of this website, online until August of 2016, adopted the large, broadly-inclusive concept of the Hydrobiidae (sl) following Kabat & Hershler (1993).  More recently the FWGNA project has shifted to the Wilke et al. (2013) classification system, distinguishing a much smaller Hydrobiidae (ss) and elevating many hydrobioid taxa previously ranked as subfamilies to the full family level.  For more details, see The Classification of the Hydrobioids.

> References

Hershler, R., J.R. Holsinger & L. Hubricht (1990) A revision of the North American freshwater snail genus Fontigens (Prosobranchia: Hydrobiidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 509:1-49,  
Hubricht, L. (1957)  New species of Fontigens from Shenandoah National Park. Nautilus 71: 9-10. 
Kabat, A.R., and R. Hershler (1993) The prosobranch snail family Hydrobiidae (Gastropoda: Rissooidea): review of classification and supraspecific taxa. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 547:1-94.  
Stewart, T. W., & R. T. Dillon, Jr.  (2004)  Species composition and geographic distribution of Virginia's freshwater gastropod fauna: A review using historical records.  Am. Malac. Bull. 19: 79-91.
Wilke T., Haase M., Hershler R., Liu H-P., Misof B., Ponder W. (2013)  Pushing short DNA fragments to the limit: Phylogenetic relationships of “hydrobioid” gastropods (Caenogastropoda: Rissooidea).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 715 – 736.