Zoological Studies

Vol. 63, 2024

(update: 2024.4.2)

Ecology and Current Distribution of Three Habitat-specialized Land Snail Species of the Genus Vertigo (Gastropoda: Eupulmonata) in Europe

Radovan Coufal1,*, Veronika Horsáková1, Tomáš Peterka1, Julien Ryelandt2, Grita Skujiene3, and Michal Horsák1

1Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czechia. E-mail: *Correspondence: E-mail: radovan.coufal39@seznam.cz (Coufal)
E-mail: veronika.horsakova@seznam.cz (Horsáková); peterkatomasek@seznam.cz (Peterka); horsak@sci.muni.cz (Horsák)
2Conservatoire Botanique National de Franche-Comté – Observatoire Régional des Invertébrés, Besançon, France. E-mail: j.ryelandt@gmail.com (Ryelandt)
3Department of Zoology, Institute of Biosciences, Life Sciences Center, Vilnius University, Saulėtekio av. 7, LT-10223 Vilnius, Lithuania. E-mail: grita.skujiene@gf.vu.lt (Skujiene)

(Received 5 April 2023 / Accepted 14 March 2024 / Published -- 2024)
Communicated by Benny K.K. Chan

Our understanding of the species distribution and ecology is critical to properly assess its conservation status. Vertigo lilljeborgi, V. genesii, and V. geyeri have the center of their current distribution range in northern Europe, where their occurrence is relatively frequent. However, to the south their occurrence is fragmented and restricted to sites of late glacial/early Holocene origin. In the last ~30 years, there has been an increase in records, connected with the listing of the latter two species in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive (94/43/EEC). However, there is no comprehensive publication documenting their pan-European distribution. Therefore, we assembled all available data from online databases, books, and scientific literature and combined them with our unpublished records to create distribution maps. The results show a more frequent occurrence in temperate Europe than previously known, especially for V. geyeri. Analyses performed on data from 327 ecologically potentially suitable sites, covering the entire distribution range of the species, have improved our knowledge of the species ecology. Vertigo lilljeborgi and especially V. genesii are restricted to areas with lower summer and winter temperatures, therefore, their further decline is expected in the face of rising temperatures due to climate change. The preference of V. geyeri for higher temperatures, in comparison to the latter two species, may explain its relatively frequent distribution in temperate Europe. Vertigo lilljeborgi favors base-poor sites, while V. genesii and V. geyeri prefer calcium-rich sites, with the latter being the most calcicolous. Their need for a stable water regime and low-productive sites, known from previous studies, was not conspicuous in our results, in all probability due to the selection of sites well within the species range. Despite the increase in record frequency, these species are still endangered, especially in temperate Europe. Their sites should therefore be strictly protected as sites of high biological diversity and conservation value. Because of their relict nature, these land snails should be considered umbrella species and indicators of well-preserved groundwater-dependent ecosystems in temperate Europe.

Key words: Glacial relicts, EU Habitats Directive, IUCN Red List species, Climate change, Vertigo lilljeborgi, Vertigo genesii, Vertigo geyeri

Citation: Coufal R, Horsáková V, Peterka T, Ryelandt J, Skujiene G, Horsák M. 2024. Ecology and current distribution of three habitat-specialized land snail species of the genus Vertigo (Gastropoda: Eupulmonata) in Europe. Zool Stud 63:19.

Supplementary materials: Fig. S1Table S1