Hershler R.,Smithsonian Institution |
Liu H.-P.,Metropolitan State University of Denver |
Howard J.,California Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
BioScience | Year: 2014
Springsnails (genus Pyrgulopsis) are one of the most abundant and diverse members of the endemic western North American aquatic biota. These tiny gastropods are imperiled by threats ranging from groundwater pumping to livestock grazing. During the past 25 years, this long-neglected element of biodiversity has emerged as a new focus of conservation-related activities, including protection of several species under the Endangered Species Act and monitoring and habitat restoration efforts. Molecular investigations have helped sharpen springsnail taxonomy and suggest that these animals cannot be managed using a priori assumptions of population structure. Despite this progress, there is an urgent need for additional studies of springsnail natural history, taxonomy, and genetics. The prospects for improving the protection and restoration of springsnail habitats are promising but are clouded by the overarching threat of groundwater mining, which may be addressed best by broader conservation efforts focused on regional groundwater-dependent ecosystems. © 2014 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences 2014. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.