Researchers have succeeded in the captive breeding of a unique, endangered land snail species that lives in only one place, Chittenango Falls in Central New York. Cody Gilbertson said one key is -- the right diet.
"I observed its feeding (habits) over the year and tailored the diet to specific preferences of that one snail," said Cody Gilbertson, an ESF graduate student.
The snails really like leaves from sugar maple and cherry trees in a habitat similar to that at the falls.
"Inside we tried to create the forest floor and I layer the preferred leaf species together kind of like a lasagna. It stays nice and wet. The snails go in and eat. This is a sugar maple leaf and you can see all the feeding holes on it," said Gilbertson.
And, 200 of the 600 snails from this incubator have been carefully placed at Chittenango Falls for the next stage of the effort to save the snail from extinction.
"First and foremost, we’re interested in whether the snails survive through the winter and as time goes on we’ll be interested in whether the smaller snails, the really baby ones that we introduced have reached reproductive maturity, mated and have laid more eggs resulting in a larger population," said Dr. Rebecca Rundell, an ESF environmental and forest biology professor.
Dr. Rebecca Rundell says it is a cooperative effort involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York DEC, Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Center for Integrated Teaching and Research at ESF.