Surveying Narrow-mouthed Whorl Snail at the Giant’s Causeway

Port Moon (c) Anna Hart

For many invertebrates in Northern Ireland our ability to act to protect them is limited by a lack of data. Understanding the habitat requirements of a species and the time of year it is most active is vital for conservation projects. Buglife are working with the National Trust to design and deliver targeted surveys of one such species.

Vertigo angustior (c) Roy Anderson

The Narrow-mouthed whorl snail (Vertigo angustior) is a tiny brown snail that is in Northern Ireland, is confined to a small area of coastline near the Giant’s Causeway. It can be found in undisturbed marshy coastal grassland and coastal turf that is fed by seepages. The Irish population of the snail is of global importance and it is a Priority species in both the UK and Northern Ireland. The significance of the Causeway coast for the snail has meant that there is a need to monitor the population size and distribution over time, as well as habitat condition and management. We are currently completing essential survey work to gather this data, with the aim of developing a sustainable monitoring methodology.

Port Moon (c) Anna Hart

Several sites with known populations of the snail are being visited each month from June to December to complete surveys, including Portnaboe, Port Ganny, Port Noffer and Port Moon. Dr Roy Anderson and Buglife’s Conservation Officer in Northern Ireland are completing the fieldwork. Surveys consist of searching through vegetation in a white tray at set locations across the sites, recording any Narrow-mouthed whorl snails found. Any habitat management concerns are being highlighted, as well as recommendations made for future site management.

Vegetation in tray (c) Anna Hart

This project will give an up-to-date picture of the snail’s population size and distribution, informing site managers and supporting the conservation of Narrow-mouthed whorl snail in Northern Ireland. Monitoring the population over time will help to identify peak times during the year, enabling any future management recommendations to have a positive impact. We are developing a monitoring protocol with the data collected that will be shared with the National Trust and other relevant partners.

Further information on the Narrow-mouthed whorl snail can be found here.

Vertigo angustior (c) Roy Anderson

Our thanks to the National Trust and DAERA who funded this project.

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