Puget Oregonian (snail) (Cryptomastix devia)

Close up of an adult Puget Oregonian snail on a green plant.
An adult Puget Oregonian terrestrial snail. (Copyright 2000 William Leonard)
Category: Molluscs
Ecosystems: Riparian areas
If you see this species, please share your observation using the WDFW wildlife reporting tool or email us at  wildlife.data@dfw.wa.gov. Be sure to include a photo of the species for verification and location (latitude/longitude coordinates) of your observation. 

The Puget Oregonian's population size is low and has a declining trend. These snails are in the Family Polygyridae. Snails in this family are of conservation concern because they have specialized habitat requirements. Snails do not readily disperse and populations are isolated. They are vulnerable to alteration of their habitat.

Description and Range

Physical description

The Cryptomastix species are medium to moderately large Pacific Northwest native species. 

Close up of two Puget Oregonian snails on a yellow leaf.
Two adult Puget Oregonian terrestrial snails. Copyright 2000 William Leonard

Ecology and life history

The Puget Oregonian is a terrestrial gastropod. Life history of the terrestrial Polygyrids may resemble that described for the Oregon forestsnail (Allogona townsendiana). This species is most active during the wet spring months when mating occurs. Adults lay eggs in new or existing flask-shaped nesting holes, or sometimes in pre-existing depressions in soil, moss, and under coarse woody debris, or at the base of vegetation. Juvenile snails hatch approximately eight to nine weeks after oviposition, and disperse from the nest site within hours of hatching.

The Puget Oregonian is found in talus and brushy draws in canyons in moderately xeric, rather open and dry situations, in talus on steep, cool (generally north or east facing) lower slopes in major river basins. Surrounding vegetation is sage scrub. Talus vegetation includes Celtus, Artemesia, Prunus, Balsamorrhiza, grasses, small limestone moss (Seligeria sp.) and bryophytes.

This snail hatches from eggs and can live for more than one year. However, specific details on life span and reproduction for this species are not found. Like most terrestrial gastropods, Cryptomastix are hermaphroditic, having both male and female organs.

Polygyrids are generally herbivorous and fungivorous snails. It is suggested that Puget Oregonian (C. devia) might aid in the dispersal of fungal spores, including mycorrhizal fungi that form tree-root associations which promote healthy tree growth.

Geographic range

The Puget Oregonian is found in the western Cascade Range and Puget Trough from southern Vancouver Island, B.C. through western Washington to the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge. Records exist from Clark, Cowlitz, King, Lewis, Pierce, Skamania, and Thurston Counties, Washington. Scientists noted 178 locations, but at most sites only one to three snails were found. Most sites are in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, where it is relatively common only in the Cowlitz and Cispus River drainages; elsewhere it is quite rare and local.

Much of the species' former range is now urban or has been developed for agriculture; 10 of 42 records from prior to 1994 are from the metropolitan Seattle area. There is a single record from the eastern Cascades near Cle Elum. Formerly found in Hood River and Wasco Counties of Oregon, and in British Columbia (primarily Vancouver Island). In Oregon, this species is in severe decline; currently only a few sites in Multnomah County remain.

For a map of worldwide conservation status and distribution, check out NatureServe Explorer.

Conservation

This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.

Conservation Threats and Actions Needed

  • Resource information collection needs
    • Threat: Status assessment is insufficient.
    • Action Needed: Improve status assessment.
  • Fish and wildlife habitat loss or degradation.
    • Threat: Habitat loss due to urbanization.
    • Action Needed: Management recommendations; technical assistance.
  • Agriculture and aquaculture side effects
    • Threat: Habitat loss due to logging of old-growth forest and bigleaf maple.
    • Action Needed: Management recommendations: technical assistance.

This species' climate vulnerability is assessed as "low to moderate." Climate vulnerability is a way to assess the degree to which a habitat or species is susceptible to, and unable to cope with adverse impacts of climate change.

Resources