It’s Snail Season!

 

During our snail survey earlier this month, we found over 30 Oregon Forestsnails and Pacific Sidebands on our Three Creeks property in Abbotsford! This warm, wet weather has coaxed our native snails out of hiding!

 

FVC staff survey this property every year in the Spring and Fall in order to learn more about our native land snail populations. We’re particularly interested in learning more about the Oregon Forestsnail, a federally listed species at risk. In fact, the Fraser Valley is one of the only locations in all of Canada with known populations of the endangered Oregon Forestsnail (OFS). The Fraser Valley Conservancy has been monitoring these OFS populations since 2014, using methodology they developed with species experts.

The bigleaf maple forest on the FVC’s Three Creeks property (as you can see in the image below), with its moist understory and large patches of stinging nettle, is a suitable habitat for these snails. So, in early May, protected by long pants and long sleeves, Sofi and I got down on our hands and knees to search understory plants and leaflitter for snails of all kinds! .

Sofi searching the forest for our plot markers

 

This was my first time searching for snails on a FVC property, but Sofi is a seasoned expert. She showed me how to get down low to look for snails at different angles through the underbrush, and how to carefully paw through the leaf litter so as not to disturb the environment during our search.

Hillary and the sNAIL salon!

At each of the 19 randomized plots set up throughout the property, we spent 10 minutes looking for snails. First we would measure out the diameter of the circular plot, and then we would each search one side. When we were both ready, Sofi would start the 10 minute timer, and the search was on! The timer made it feel like a competition, which definitely made it more fun, but it was really there to ensure that we’re consistent in our data collection. To keep our findings accurate, we need to make sure that every plot gets treated the same every time we go back to survey the site.

When travelling between each plot, we made sure to scan the surrounding area to see if we could find any snails of interest. Specifically, we were on the lookout for the Oregon Forestsnail and the Pacific Sideband.

Sofi measuring snail shell diameter

The survey plots aren’t always in a snail hot spot. In fact, we discovered our largest snail grouping of the day almost entirely by accident! During an unscheduled bio-break, I happened to find 20 Oregon Forestsnails just outside of our plot area all within a 7m radius of each other! This got both of us very excited. We marked the spot on our GPS unit so that we can come back later and search it again.

Throughout the day, we made note of the type and number of snails we found at each plot, both alive and dead, and we measured and marked the shells of our two snail species of interest. We  painted a number on each shell with a non-toxic nail varnish. (One might say that we hosted a pop-up sNAIL salon!)

We hope to recapture some of the snails we marked during our next survey so that we can learn more about the native snail population sizes on the Three Creeks property, and what kind of habitat types they prefer.

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We’re hoping that as we learn more about the Oregon Forestsnail we can make better predictions about where we might find other populations of this endangered snail in the future, and how we can help protect their habitat.

Stay tuned for an analysis of our surveys to date!


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You can be a snail detective, too!


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Volunteers needed for snail surveys!

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We are looking for some volunteers to help complete snail surveys at our Three Creeks site in Abbotsford next week. The snail surveys involve sifting through leaf litter and under ferns.  Volunteers must be capable of bending or kneeling on the ground for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and not be afraid of a little rain! 

We will identify all snail and slug species that we find and mark endangered Oregon forestsnails and Pacific sideband snails for our mark recapture study.  We will also collect information on the vegetation found in each survey plot.

I would like to schedule a survey for Wednesday October 15 between 8am and 2:30pm and Friday October 17 between 8am and 4pm.  I would appreciate it if volunteers could contribute 4 hours of their time to this project but other than that timing can be flexible. 

Location: 
Three Creeks (meet at the east end of Ledgeview Drive off of McKeeRoad in Abbotsford).
Timing: 
Wednesday October 15, 8 am – 2:30 pm
Friday October 17, 8 am – 4 pm

If you are interested in participating please send Kendra an email (projects@fraservalleyno.wpengine.com) or call the office at 604-625-0066.  If these times don’t work for you but you are interested in helping out send an e-mail anyways in case volunteers are needed for another time.

Snail surveys at Three Creeks!

Earlier this summer we spent 4 days surveying for endangered snails at our newly named Three Creeks property in East Abbotsford as part of a mark recapture study we are doing.

Our total count for the survey was:

Pacific Sideband: 19
Oregon Forestsnail: 35

These snails are both at-risk species in BC. The blue-listed Pacific Sideband is the largest land snail in BC, and can sometimes be found climbing the trunks of trees! Pacific Sideband snails are typically dark with a light band, but can be “blonde”- meaning the shell is light-colored and the band is missing or hard to see. The red-listed Oregon Forestsnail is often associated with patches of stinging nettle.

 

                                 
                              A “blonde” Pacific Sideband at Three Creeks!                     An Oregon Forestsnail at Three Creeks!

 

We have found that our Three Creeks property is also home to other fascinating snail species, so we have put together a simple key to help you identify species in your own backyard!

(Fun fact: Lancetooth snails are omnivorous– they eat earthworms, slugs and snails… including their own species!)

Click here to see the snail key!

The key contains the 5 species we found at Three Creeks but BC has over 95 species of land snails! For more information and a comprehensive list please visit E-fauna BC’s list of terrestrial snails or refer to the Land Snails of British Columbia handbook.

 

Name Announced for our Newest Conservation Property – THREE CREEKS it is!

Some of the great name suggestions:

Name Suggestions

Since we acquired it last year, we have been referring to our newest property acquisition as merely McKee Peak (based on its geographic location on Sumas Mountain). This summer we have been soliciting input from our members, neighbours, and online followers for name suggestions. There was a huge range of various suggestions; ranging from simple to obscure and some even comical! But in the end the FVC board elected to go with the elegantly simple “Three Creeks”. This name really sums up why this property was donated as conservation land and the moist hillside forest habitat that makes it such a special place.

Summer Celebration at our McKee Peak property!

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In June we hosted a barbeque for the residents of Ledgeview Estates and the FVC members to celebrate the acquisition of our newest property. The event was a chance for our new neighbours to get to know the FVC staff and members as well as a chance for everyone to learn about the ecological values of the property, so we can work together to help protect it for years to come.

In addition to having educational displays, a conservation biologist from one of our partner organizations (Pamela Zevit of the South Coast Conservation Program) provided guided tours of the property pointing out some of the rare species and unique habitat features.

Membe032rs and neighbours also helped us plant young Western Red Cedars and Big Leaf Maple trees to further enhance the habitat and compensate for some of the trees recently cleared in the adjoining housing development. Each new tree was protected by individual fencing because the resident deer population has a significant browsing effect on any young trees trying to establish themselves.

planting

Thanks to Tiffany at Birch Grove Nursery, we had native plants on  display that make excellent examples for nature-friendly gardens. The plants were a prize for our raffle draw and were won by one of our new neighbours who was excited to add them to her garden that backs onto the conservation property!

RBC staff from the Sumas branch volunteered there time and Blue Water supplies to ensure this event was a success – huge thanks to Melina, Jacqueline and their super-helper Grayson!