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    • May 29, 2019

    snail on a rockToday, we celebrate snails-- an essential, endangered, and understudied component of our state’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Non-marine mollusks, including freshwater and land snails, are the most imperiled group of animals on our planet: 41% of recorded extinctions from 1500-2004 were of non-marine mollusks. Unrecorded extinctions may be significantly higher, as the conservation status of less than 2 percent of mollusk species has been adequately assessed (link opens in new windowFurnish 2007, 2014).

    Aquatic mollusks have been devastated by over a century of dams, diversions, water pollution, and other anthropogenic impacts. Conserving freshwater mollusks, including snails, is critically important to the health of our rivers and streams, as these species play a vital role in reclaiming water quality.

    snail shellApproximately 240 land snails (and slugs) are native to California, including many endemic species. "Terrestrial snails are important components of our forests and woodlands," says ecologist Len Lindstrand. "They decompose litter, recycle nutrients, build soils; and provide food and calcium for birds, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and other invertebrates." Land snails can be found in desert environments as well, as attested by snail expert Dave Goodward. Finding these species takes patience; to conserve precious body moisture, they emerge from cover only when conditions are right, often at night. Finding the snail is just the beginning of the challenge: "Telling the different species apart is maddeningly difficult," says Goodward. He found the "lovely snail" pictured below in the Piute Mountains of Kern County. It was similar to a badger shoulderband, but may prove to be an undescribed, narrowly endemic species.

    outstretched snailCurious to learn more about these enigmatic creatures? Try looking up the work of our state’s foremost land snail expert Dr. Barry Roth, who co-authored the link opens in new windowChecklist of the Land Snails and Slugs of California. For a list of snails and slugs tracked in CNDDB, check out the link opens in new windowSpecial Animals List on our website. Happy trails!

    Photo 1: Monadenia troglodytes wintu by Len Lindstrand
    Photo 2: Trilobopsis roperi by Len Lindstrand
    Photo 3: Helminthoglyptha sp. By Dave Goodward

    Categories: Education and Awareness, Taxon of the week
    • May 23, 2019

    Met a time traveler recently? They never seem to be in a hurry. Maybe that’s because their body plan has barely changed in the past 200 million years.

    Turtles are humbling reminders of our place in history. In the blip of time that humans have existed, many cultures have been inspired to include turtles in their art and legends.

    Sadly, an armored shell can’t protect against all dangers. Worldwide, link opens in new windowover half of all species of turtles and tortoises may be facing extinction in the near future.

    Help us document and protect these ancient survivors by submitting your records of western pond turtle, desert tortoise, Sonoran mud turtle, and green sea turtle through our link opens in new windowOnline Field Survey Form.

    Western pond turtles sun themselves on a winter's afternoon
    Western pond turtles (a CA Species of Special Concern) sun themselves on a winter’s afternoon.

    Categories: Education and Awareness
    • May 21, 2019

    In preparation for this post, we were saddened to learn of the passing of CNDDB contributor Dr. Laurence Resseguie in 2017. We are grateful for Laurie’s tremendous contributions to Swainson’s hawk research in California.

    Between 1998 and 2013, Dr. Resseguie submitted an incredible 1,695 field survey forms and reports to the California Natural Diversity Database; the vast majority of them for Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni), a state threatened species. This data was used to map 492 SWHA occurrences across 42 quads and 6 counties. Laurie’s field work increased our understanding of the northern limits of the breeding range of SWHA in California.

    Dr. Resseguie’s dedication to his work was unparalleled. He came out of retirement to assist CNDDB with updates for Swainson’s hawk records in 2013, driving down from his home in Washington State to locate nest sites with CNDDB staff member Rachel Freund. Rachel recalls Dr. Resseguie marveling at the determination of the nesting hawks as the birds attempted to shade their eggs from the glaring summer sun and 100-plus degree heat. Clearly, Laurie possessed a wide streak of that same determination.

    Laurie’s legacy is an example of how one individual’s observations can make a great impact on wildlife conservation in California. Leave your mark today by submitting rare species detections through the link opens in new windowCNDDB Online Field Survey Form!

    If you’d like to nominate an individual for CNDDB’s Contributor Spotlight, please email Rachel Freund at

    Categories: Contributor Spotlight