Detailed detective work leads to rediscovery of rare snail.

Tuesday 14th November 2017

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of volunteers and Buglife staff, Buglife Scotland’s HLF funded Marvellous Mud Snails project has rediscovered two populations of the rare Pond mud snail (Omphiscola glabra). One population in Falkirk had not been recorded in 100 years! A key component of this project is to reassess the known populations of the Pond mud snail and look through historical records to try and rediscover old populations.

The project was launched in April 2017 and is working to conserve this small freshwater snail. Things are now in full swing and the team are busy out talking to the people of Scotland about this once overlooked species and going into schools to teach pupils about this amazing little mollusc.

Surveys undertaken in 2005/6 looking for the Pond mud snail showed a 64% decline from historically recorded sites with current populations only found at fives sites in Scotland. However due to some of the historical records coming from 1917 it was worth further investigating the sites associated with these records. Due to volunteers and Buglife staffs detective skills and hours of research two populations previously thought lost have been rediscovered.

Back in May 2017, volunteer Clive Walton surveyed a site in Midlothian and rediscovered the 1955 recorded ‘Bavelaw Moss’ population. Previous surveys had not been able to find any signs of this elusive snail. Clive went through the history books and discovered that the name Moss was relatively new for the area and was associated to the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Red Moss reserve. This site had been the focus of previous searches and in fact the original recorder had been referring to Bavelaw Marsh which is adjacent to the Red Moss site and it is here that Clive rediscovered the snails.

However the latest success of rediscovery was down to Buglife’s own Craig Macadam. This time the search focussed around the Falkirk council area and the success led to this population being rediscovered 100 years to the day since it was last recorded. Craig had discovered a paper written in 1918 by W. Denison Roebuck titled ‘Limnaea Glabra as a Scottish Mollusc’, this paper gave detailed descriptions of where known populations of the Pond mud snail occurred and it was from this and looking at old maps of the Falkirk area that we were able to pin point an area that looked really promising. Craig went out on 27/10/2017 hopeful that the site would be wet enough and the snails were still present and they were, 100 years to the day the snails were rediscovered.

Anna Perks, Biodiversity Officer for Falkirk Council said “It is fantastic news that this rare mud snail has been rediscovered in the Falkirk area. We have been looking for this elusive mollusc for many years and I’m delighted that the hard work of Buglife Scotland staff and volunteers has finally paid off. The mud snail is identified as a priority for conservation action in the Falkirk Area Biodiversity Action Plan. Now that the snails and their muddy home have been rediscovered we can take action to make sure that they continue to survive and thrive in the Falkirk area.”

Alasdair Lemon, Buglife Conservation Officer said ‘Reassessing old records is a key component of this project and just proves how important historical information and wildlife recording is to the biodiversity conservation sector. Without real dedication from volunteers and detailed biological records being available these two populations could have gone a miss but now the Marvellous Mud Snail project and partners can work towards conserving these populations.’