Bardstown Blitzkrieg - The tertiary phase, saturation snailing

By Harry G. Lee

    Lori and Jeff Schroeder are the only Kentucky residents on the Jacksonville Shell Club roster, but they have attended our shell shows, field trips, and at least one meeting. Furthermore, you can find their mark on the n the Shell-O-Gram. Related to the latter activity, which emerged from casual and tenuous origins at the 2002 Jacksonville Shell Show (Schroeder, 2005, 2008) <>, a collaboration involving the author, and, as we shall see, a growing number of associates, has evolved in saltatory fashion (Lee, 2008a) <> resulting in the present report.

    From absolute scratch, and with admitted reluctance, Lori began collecting land snails near her home in Bardstown, Nelson Co., KY. The initial impetus was a challenge by a friend, Gil Chumbley, who inquired about a land snail, later ID'ed as Mesodon elevatus (Say, 1821), the Proud Globe, he'd found on his pristine woodland property. His turf is part of a single contiguous tract covering 75 acres; a section is owned by Gil and the rest by the Stauble family. The Schroeders live less than ten miles north of this edenic forest. Lori collected her first specimens on the Stauble-Chumbley tract in the spring of 2003 and two years later reported on 23 species of land snails from the county - all but one from this forestland. The ice was broken (Schroeder, 2005, 2008)!  While being quite respectably diverse, Lori's inventory was comprised almost exclusively of larger snails (none was a micro species; less than 5 mm in maximum dimension). This prompted another gauntlet to be thrown. In an effort to expand diversity of the land snail inventory by including smaller species, I asked Lori to take leaf litter samples potentially rich in micro's, from sites which had earlier proved provident of the larger species, including "Anguispira Rock" ("AR") on the Stauble property, so named because the ground was strewn with Flamed Tigersnail shells.
On Sept. 15 of last year Lori surveyed promising spots on the tract and, finding the landscape had changed due to drought, diverged slightly from protocol and harvested about two large handfuls of soil from each of 11 spots in which the "bones" of larger snails were obvious [a laudable strategy under the circumstances]. At the North Carolina Shell Show later that month she presented me with her precious samples along with the corollary but novel sobriquet "Dirty Harry." Due to pressure from competing activities, it took a few months to complete the analysis using tried techniques (Lee, 1990, 1993). At the end of the campaign, among other findings, I had identified 32 species from three clustered and rather conservative soil samples Lori took from "AR" (Lee, 2008a) <>. Now that was a truly impressive fauna for a single station (here defined as one collecting event in an area of no more than 1000 m).

    Armed with a modicum of logic, a liberal dose of snailer's intuition, and a thirst for establishing some kind of single station biodiversity benchmark, I asked Lori and Jeff if they were ready for an all-out assault on "AR." They agreed, and we set a date.
The author with "Auguispira Rock" in the background

Ed Cavin next to "Auguispira Rock"

The author with "Auguispira Rock" in the background

Ed Cavin next to "Auguispira Rock"

    With minimal persuasion, I convinced Jacksonville botanist/engineer Ed Cavin, for whom the land snail Georissa cavini Auffenberg, 1998 is named, that there was a sentinel expedition in the works. We hopped a Delta flight to Louisville, and drove to the Schroeders' home early in the evening of Friday, May 16. Despite an ominous light drizzle most of the afternoon, we were able to enjoy the congenial reception on our hosts' patio. Shortly expeditioner recruits Rob Smotherman and the Scheus of Louisville (Am. Conch. Editrix Emerita Lynn and hubby Richard) joined us, and the project as well as many other pressing conchologically relevant, etc. issues underwent lively discussion. A most festive repast followed, and the party continued well after dinner. Rob's provision of a generous aliquot of "1792 Ridgemont Reserve," a Bardstown endemic bourbon, exquisite in flavor and nonpareil in conversational enhancement, was a final highlight of a most enjoyable and memorable evening.

    Ed and I slept well. Not so early Saturday morning we (and all weather authorities we had consulted) were gruntled by unexpectedly clear skies. The stage was set! We caravanned to "AR" and deployed our gear - far more than  we eventually put to full use. Lori and Jeff led us a couple of hundred meters from the parking area to the three limestone excrescences that define this piece of the landscape. Although the Scheus were somewhat daunted by the spectre of poison ivy, all seven expeditioners prospected for snails at least part of the two hour campaign that ensued. Details of the collection event are apparent in the video produced by Jeff. Ancillary findings included various unusual wildflowers (Lynn Scheu is an aficionada thereof), an assortment of herbs including the Rhus genus, which created various levels of anxiety, interesting hardwoods, and finally a great number of barrel hoops along a little spring run near "AR." Given the evidence in the context Nelson County's proud tradition of altering selected grain products by distillation and aging, we concluded that we had come very close to the operation of a olden days illicit competitor with our new-found friends at the "1792" operation.

We eventually mustered again at the parking area alongside the W shore of a one-acre impoundment of another spring run, 200 m W of "AR." There the Scheus had set up a table on which we were able to review the macro snails taken by all of us. Including the mantleslug my shirt had inadvertently collected, there were 15 species - enough to signal potential success. The remainder of the snail collection remained hidden from view in the six 1/2 to 1 gallon-sized bags I had stuffed with leaf litter taken along "AR." While we picnicked and conversed in this idyllic setting, Rob investigated the shore of the pond and brought some little aquatic snails (physids and planorbids) to my attention. On pure spec' I grabbed a  seventh sample - about a quart of leaves and grass from just landward of his spot. After eating, drinking, and debriefing we headed north to the edge of the woods a paid a visit to Gil and Joyce Chumbley to give a preliminary (and favorable) report of our findings. After fond farewells, we went our separate ways.

Exactly three months after departing "AR," I felt confident with my analysis of the day's catch. A tabulation follows.

In color are the 48 species of terrestrial snails of Nelson Co., KY identified from collections made by Lori and Jeff Schroeder before the Blitzkrieg. Species among the 32 found at "AR" on the Stauble Property, ~ 8 mi. S. Bardstown; 3744.478 - 3744.486N X 8531.24 - 8531.36W on 9/15/07 are not indented; all others are. Those found at "AR" on May 17, 2008 are followed by [no. specimens]; thirteen (seven macro [>10 mm], one meso [5-10 mm], five micro [<5 mm]) of these taxa are new to the station; six (in black) of the thirteen were not previously found in Nelson Co. by the Schroeders.

(Olygyra) orbiculata (Say, 1818) Globular Drop
Carychium clappi Hubricht, 1959 Appalachian Thorn [1]
Carychium nannodes G. Clapp, 1905 File Thorn [49]
        Cochlicopa morseana (Doherty, 1878) Appalachian Pillar (new to list; meso) [2]
        Columella simplex (Gould, 1841) Toothless Column [2]
        Gastrocopta armifera (Say, 1821) Armed Snaggletooth

Gastrocopta contracta (Say, 1822) Bottleneck Snaggletooth [23]
Gastrocopta corticaria (Say, 1817) Bark Snaggletooth
Gastrocopta pentodon (Say, 1822) Comb Snaggletooth [12]
Gastrocopta procera (Gould, 1840) Wing Snaggletooth
Vertigo gouldii (A. Binney, 1843) Variable Vertigo [17]
Strobilops labyrinthicus (Say, 1817) Maze Pinecone [2]
Vallonia perspectiva Sterki, 1893 Thin-lip Vallonia

        Haplotrema concavum (Say, 1821) Gray Lancetooth [1]
Punctum blandianum Pilsbry, 1900 Brown Spot [25]
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot [91]
        Punctum smithi Morrison, 1935 Lamellate Spot
(new to list; micro) [6]
Punctum vitreum (H. B. Baker, 1930) Glass Spot  Glass Spot (new to list; micro) [13]
Anguispira alternata (Say, 1817) Flamed Tigersnail [60]
        Anguispira kochi (Pfeiffer, 1846) Banded Tiger [9]
Discus patulus (Deshayes, 1832) Domed Disc [3]
         Philomycus carolinianus (Bosc,1802) Carolina Mantleslug (new to list; macro) [1]
Helicodiscus notius notius Hubricht, 1962 Tight Coil

scintilla (Lowe, 1852) Oldfield Coil
Lucilla singleyana (Pilsbry, 1889) Smooth Coil [3]
Lucilla species

        Euconulus dentatus (Sterki, 1893) Toothed Hive
        Euconulus trochulus
(Reinhardt, 1883) Silk Hive
Guppya sterkii (Dall, 1888) Tiny Granule
Glyphyalinia cumberlandiana (G. Clapp, 1919) Hill Glyph* [7]
Glyphyalinia indentata (Say, 1822) Carved Glyph [34]
Glyphyalinia lewisiana (G. Clapp, 1908) Pale Glyph [1]
        Glyphyalinia wheatleyi (Bland, 1883) Bright Glyph (new to list; micro) [16]
Hawaiia alachuana (Dall, 1885) Southeast Gem [6]
Hawaiia minuscula (Binney, 1841) Minute Gem
Mesomphix globosus (MacMillan, 1940) Globose Button (new to list; macro) [4]
Mesomphix vulgatus H. B. Baker, 1933 Common Button [35]
Striatura meridionalis (Pilsbry and Ferriss, 1906) Southern Striate [58]
Ventridens collisella (Pilsbry, 1896) Sculptured Dome [31]
        Ventridens demissus (A. Binney, 1843) Perforate Dome
Ventridens pilsbryi Hubricht, 1964 Yellow Dome
Zonitoides arboreus (Say, 1817) Quick Gloss [6]
        Euchemotrema fraternum (Say, 1824) Upland Pillsnail [4]
        Euchemotrema leai (A. Binney, 1841) Lowland Pillsnail
Inflectarius inflectus (Say, 1821) Shagreen
        Mesodon clausus (Say, 1821) Yellow Globelet
        Mesodon elevatus (Say, 1821) Proud Globe
        Mesodon thyroidus (Say, 1817) White-lip Globe
Mesodon zaletus (A. Binney, 1837) Toothed Globe [22]
Neohelix albolabris (Say, 1817) Whitelip [2]
        Patera appressa (Say, 1821) Flat Bladetooth
        Triodopsis vulgata
Pilsbry, 1940 Dished Threetooth [27]
Triodopsis vulgata Pilsbry, 1940 Dished Threetooth**
compact morph [2]
Xolotrema obstrictum (Say, 1821) Sharp Wedge [13]

* ID change from G. rhoadsi based on adult shells first found during this saturation effort.
**previously misID'ed as Triodopsis hopetonensis (Shuttleworth, 1852) Magnolia Threetooth; see both Triodopsis vulgata morphs in the figures at <> and <>.

    In summary, 681 specimens of 38 species, all native to the area, were collected at "AR" 5/17/08. The total for the two (9/15/07 & 5/17/08) AR collections is 44 native species. To the best of my knowledge, based largely on personal experience and a series of informal conversations with American land snail experts over several decades, this single "AR" station and the two visit single locality composite seems to have detected more biodiversity than any other place in the eastern United States - ever! The expedition was specifically designed to accomplish this feat. The strategy for its success involved a carefully-selected provident habitat (the limestone-rich KY pristine forest which had provided an abundance of snails previously), a team of energetic and savvy collectors, the technical combination of visual reconnaissance with generous sampling of the forest duff, and temperate weather preceded by generous precipitation. We can congratulate ourselves on a well-planned and -executed outing, but only Lady Luck should be credited for that final ingredient.

    In my experience, the runner-up for productivity at a single station is 36 native species taken in the vicinity of Florida Caverns on 5/12/08 (Lee, 2008b). A total of 1267 specimens was taken in this event <>.

    Next on my medal stand is the October, 1989 sample taken at "The Cabin," James Mt., Haywood Co., NC by Bonnie Holiman and Billie Brown with 566 specimens of 33 native species (Lee, 1990, 1993). The cumulative tally over a half dozen collecting episodes at "The Cabin" is 37 native and one introduced species <>.

    Never have I gotten over 30 native species in a single collecting event at a Jacksonville locality under natural conditions. It is true that larger numbers have been taken from single localities, but I had to resort to at least one of two special methods: repeated (composite) sampling or drift analysis (Lee, 2006a) <>.

    Among the largest Jacksonville area single station takes are (native snails only): Freedom-Commerce Tract [33 spp.] (Lee, 2006a) <>, Bennett Branch [22 spp.], Baker-Skinner Park [20], and the Jennings Tract [20 spp.], but these four were all essentially based on drift samples <>, the composition of which is not a natural assemblage.

    The largest Jacksonville area "single locality" composite native snail species inventories are: Munsilna McGundo House, Ft. George Is. [34 spp.] <>, Low woods, Dupont Ctr., St. Johns Co. [32 spp.], My back yard [25 spp.], Ft. Caroline National Memorial [25 spp.] <>, and Big Talbot Is. [23 spp.] (Lee, 2006c) <>. The latter two actually include more than one specific locality. Species lists and a map showing all the Jacksonville area localities are at <>.

    On Sanibel Is. at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge I took 847 specimens of 22 native landsnail species on 3/3/06 (Lee, 2008c)

    My best Bennington Co., VT take so far has been the lower quarry on the eastern flank of Mt. Aeolus, where 23 native species were collected on 9/27/03 (Lee, 2004) <>. Excluding the discovery of two introduced species, the cumulative tally increased to 28 with a second visit on 5/24/08.

    Using samples of drift collected from the center of the USA by coast-to-coast sheller Tom Grace in 2005, I was able to find large numbers of native land snails: Buffalo River, AK [36 spp.], Marais des Cygnes River, KS [29 spp.], and Neosho River, KS [26 spp.].

    Two landmark collections were made in Alabama: (1) Several liters of drift from the Paint Rock River in Madison Co. contained 32 species of native snails (Lee, 1996) <>. (2) During COA 2006 I took 26 native species at Claiborne Bluff, Monroe Co. without resorting to drift sampling (Lee, 2006b).

    Returning to Nelson Co., I must write a bit of an epilogue. Because of Rob's interest in the open grassy area and pond margin at the picnic site, I analyzed the grass-soil sample I took:
Species found in grass-duff sample ("Rob's spot") near W shore 1 acre impoundment of another spring run, 200 m
W "Anguispira Rock” ~3744.5N X 8531.32W. H. G. Lee and R. Smotherman! May 17, 2008:

     Carychium riparium Hubricht, 1978 Floorplain Thorn [2]*
     Vertigo milium
(Gould, 1840) Blade Vertigo [3]*
Strobilops labyrinthicus (Say, 1817) Maze Pinecone [2]
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot [1]

* Previously unrecorded from Nelson Co.

    Thus the total species count for Nelson Co., KY collected by Lori Schroeder and associates climbs to 56! This finding at “Rob’s Spot,” in the context of the exhaustive benchmark collection made just 1/8 mile away, is a fine demonstration of the influence of habitat on the composition of the landsnail fauna ... and it opens the doors to speculation about how many land snail species do actually occur in Nelson Co., KY. Life wouldn't be interesting, and science wouldn't be true to form if new questions didn't arise as soon as older ones are answered.

    The author wishes to thank Ed Cavin for logistical, photographic and field assistance, Bill Frank for technical, editorial, and photographic services, David Kirsh for his close-up photography (borrowed from an earlier installment), Lori Schroeder for her hospitality, ground-breaking field work, and editorial contributions, Dr. Jeffrey Schroeder for his cinematography, photography, and its editing, as well as field support, Lynn and Richard Scheu for their provision of materials and botanical support, and Rob Smotherman for his enthusiasm and provocative curiosity in the field.

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Lee, H. G., 1993. Toward an improved strategy for landsnail collecting. American Conchologist 21(1): 12-13. March.
Lee, H. G., 1996. A contrivance to combine conchological collection capacity coincident with canoe clamming -or- Dream stream stems teem with stenotremes. Shell-O-Gram 37(6): 1, 4-5, 7. Nov.-Dec.
Lee, H. G., 2004. Advancing Vermont malacology -or- Finding lime recycled after half a billion years of mineral inertia. Shell-O-Gram 45(1): 2-6. Jan.-Feb
Lee, H. G., 2006a. The urban shelling experience: wrack up a new method - if you get my drift. Shell-O-Gram 47(1): 3,-4. Jan.-Feb.
Lee, H. G., 2006b. Landsnails of Claiborne Bluff. American Conchologist 34(3): 30-31. Sept.
Lee, H. G., 2006c. Archaeology team really digs shells. Shell-O-Gram 47(6): 1,5-6. Nov.-Dec.
Lee, H. G., 2008a. Shelling Sequel: Snailer Schroeder's shelled species survey soars significantly since second stage started (soil samples sorted). Shell-O-Gram 49(1): 3-10. Jan.-Feb.
Lee, H. G., 2008b. A dirty job, but one worth doing - Florida Caverns redux. Shell-O-Gram 49(4): 4-6. July-Aug.
Lee, H. G., 2014. Shelled land snails of the Calusa shell mound, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, and of Lee County, Florida. Florida Scientist 77(1): 2-14. March 12.
Schroeder, L., 2005. The reluctant explorer. Shell-O-Gram 46(1):1, 3-4. Jan.-Feb.

Schroeder, L., 2008. The reluctant explorer. American Conchologist 36(2): 32-34. June.

Last emended 24 October, 2020.