Common Name
DESERET MOUNTAINSNAIL

Scientific Name
OREOHELIX PERIPHERICA

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by Dr. Kevin J. Roe
Photo Courtesy of Delaware Museum of Natural History

Utah Taxonomy

When first discovered, this species was included within Patula cooperi. Later, peripherica was arranged as a subspecies of Helix (= Oreohelix) idahoensis, a species now considered to occur only in northern Idaho. Binney (1886) included the named morphological variants of this species as "varieties" of Patula strigosa (= Oreohelix strigosa). Henderson and Daniels (1916) and Pilsbry (1916a) recognized peripherica as a full species, an arrangement that has been followed by subsequent authors.

Previous to the work of Pilsbry (1916a) the names multicostata, binneyi, gouldi, albofasciata, and castanea were used variously as "varieties" (see, for example, Binney 1886) and "forms" (see, for example, Henderson and Daniels 1916, 1917) and sometimes were used as if they were subspecies (see, for example, Henderson and Daniels' [1916] use of gouldi). Pilsbry (1916a) listed binneyi, albofasciata, gouldi and castanea as named color forms of the type race, peripherica, and listed newcombi and wasatchensis as subspecies. The subspecies weberiana was described by Pilsbry (1939). Clarke and Hovingh (1994) suggested that newcombi and weberiana do not deserve subspecific status and are synonyms of the type race, peripherica.

Status in Utah

Approximately 13 colonies are known from Utah. Three of these colonies have been considered distinct subspecies and have been relocated in recent years. The remaining localities have not been revisited and their current status is not known. Populations are known in portions of Box Elder, Cache, and Weber counties (Henderson and Daniels 1916, 1917; Chamberlin and Jones 1929).

Henderson and Daniels (1916, 1917) reported several colonies of the subspecies peripherica as "abundant". Clarke and Hovingh (1994) estimated one colony (subspecies weberiana) to contain 20,000 individuals. Another colony (subspecies wasatchensis) was said to comprise between 10,000 and 100,000 individuals (Clarke 1993).

Threats to this species are unknown but are thought to include habitat loss from development and grazing and catastrophic events such as fires that could potentially extirpate local populations. Populations that have been revisited in recent years by Clarke and Hovingh (1994) appear to be stable.

Most of the historical localities have not been revisited and their status is unknown. Inventory is needed to relocate and evaluate the extent of these colonies.

Habitats Utilized in Utah

Henderson and Daniels (1916, 1917) found this species under vegetation and associated leaf litter, specifically mentioning mountain maple (Acer sp.), scrub oak (Quercus gambelii), balsam root (Balsamorhiza sp.), and "a decumbent species of polygonaceous plant which clings closely to the rock."

At several localities reported by Henderson and Daniels (1916, 1917), Oreohelix peripherica was closely associated with limestone outcrops. The type locality (and only locality) of the subspecies wasatchensis, however, is a quartzite boulder field. Clarke (1993) found wasatchensis primarily in a maple grove adjacent to this quartzite boulder field, though a few live specimens were found among the boulders.

Sources:

  • Text modified from: Oliver, George V. and William R. Bosworth III. 1999. Rare, imperiled, and recently extinct or extirpated mollusks of Utah[:] a literature review. Publication number 99-29. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City. 230 pp.

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