The Tale of A Snail:The Magnificent Ram's-Horn

by melanie1167103
Last updated 8 years ago

Discipline:
Science
Subject:
Animals
Grade:
9

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The Tale of A Snail:The Magnificent Ram's-Horn

The Tale Of A Snail:The Magnificent Ram's-Horn(Planorbella Magnifica)

FUN FACTS!1. The Magnificent Ram's-Horn has only been recorded at four sites in the lower Cape Fear River Basin in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties2. The species is believed to be extinct in the wild, given that one has not been seen in the wild since 2005.3. Originally, these snails lived in harmony with beavers. They depended on the beavers for survival. This species of snail is VERY salt-sensitive, therefore even a small amount of salt in their water supply can be fatal. This being said, the beaver's dams protected the snails by redirecting salt water away from their tributary habitats.4. Kingdom: Animalia5. Phylum: Mollusca6. Class: Gastropoda7. Order: Hygrophila8. Family: Planorbidae9. Genus: Planorablella10. Species:Planorabella Magnifica 11. Up until 2011, the only KNOWN survivors of the species lived in Pender County, NC under the care of, biologist, Andy Wood.

Conservation Efforts!Two words: Andy Wood!Allow me to explain... Andy Wood is a biologist who has developed quite an obsession with the Magnificent Ram's-Horn over the past several years. The impact he has made is the result of hard work, dedication, and... his actions one night during 1996. Any North Carolinian who was alive at the time can remember when Hurricane Fran tore across the Carolina coast. This is true for Wood as well. At the time, his family lived near Bradley Creek, where Wood had been keeping a group of around 500 snails (Magnificent Ram's-Horns) in homemade tanks. When the creek flooded, it swept away one tank, and overturned the other. Andy (being the animal lover that he is) rushed out, waist-deep, into the tempest in an effort to save his precious snails. He managed to scoop up 25 snails. He rushed inside and quickly put the snails inside his son's aquarium. Sadly, 13 of them died immediately, having taken in too much salt during the flood. This left him with just 12 specimens from which to rebuild the species' population. All of the wild Magnificent Ram's-Horns were also thought to have been killed by the influx of salt-water brought on by the Hurricane. From the 12 snails that he managed to salvage, Wood has bred the snails and now cares for more than 1,000 snails! There have recently been efforts to develop more breeding groups to increase the probability of the species' survival. Wood recently gave about 40 snails to Jay Levine, a professor at the Aquatic Epidemiology Conservation Lab at N.C. State University. The new group is reportedly doing well. Not much is known about the Magnificent Ram's-Horn, however Jay Levine plans to change this. He hopes to research the species' genetics, reproduction patterns and sensitivity to salinity and pH levels. This information will prove to be helpful when choosing sites for reintroduction into the wild.For further reading (which I highly reccomend): http://www.fayobserver.com/articles/2011/11/06/1134628?sac=localhttp://www.nccoast.org/m/article.aspx?k=640c9816-1839-4cc8-bf83-05eb5a2352f1http://www.nccoast.org/m/article.aspx?k=2ba1535e-b3c0-4b4a-acd6-56fccee17ef7http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/01/1610662/biologists-magnificent-obsession.htmlhttp://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/1998/04/28/tec_226994.shtmlwww.starnewsonline.com/article/20120630/COLUMNIST/120629627/1015/news0101?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar

Where are they? The Magnificent Ram's-Horn has only been found at four places along the Cape Fear River in New Hanover (at left, in yellow) and Brunswick (at left, in green) Counties in the past, however it is now thought to be extinct in the wild. A wild snail of this species has not been seen since 2004/2005, therefore it is highly likely that the species is extinct in the wild due to habitat destruction.The largest group of snails of this species live in Pender (at left, in purple) County with, biologist, Andy Wood.

Andy Wood smiling (at right), as he proudly shows off some snail eggs on the underside of a leaf (above).

Andy Wood checking on his snails, as he does twice on a daily basis (at left).

What is it & Why should I care? The Magnificent Ram's-Horn is a type of Ram's-Horn snail, the biggest of its kind, in fact. It is a freshwater, airbreathing snail. Its name comes from the fact that it's shell resembles a ram's horn (see picture in top left corner). The Magnificent Ram's-Horn has been thought to be extinct in the wild since around 2004 to 2005. This makes them a very important species to protect, given their small population. Around 1996, when Hurricane Fran hit North Carolina, most (if not all) of their habitat was flooded with salt water. Magnificent Ram's-Horns are extremely sensitive to salt, and too much is usually fatal. For this reason, it is thought that most of their population died out in the years following the flood.


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