The Mollusca of the Crosby Sanctuary, Clay Co., Florida
By Harry G. Lee
Crosby Sanctuary, Clay Co., Florida

Abstract: Two mollusk collections, roughly spanning the 30-year existence of the Crosby Sanctuary, are reported.
Selected zoogeographic, archaeological, historic, nomenclatorial, and taxonomic aspects of this fauna, numbering 30 species, are discussed relevant to three large aquatic gastropods, Viviparus georgianus, V. intertextus, and Pomacea paludosa.

    The Duval Audubon Society (DAS) administers a tract of 408 acres of predominantly bottomland hardwood swamp donated by J. Ellis and Addie Weltch Crosby in the early 1980's (Crosby Sanctuary). This land is a segment of a major wildlife habitat corridor between the Ortega River (McGirts Creek), on which I live, and Black Creek, in Duval and Clay Counties respectively.

    On June 22, 1980, during the lengthy process of land-transfer, I accompanied Lenore McCullagh, who served as DAS liaison with the Crosbys, and her husband, Henry, my partner in medical practice, on a riverine reconnaissance of the property with a focus on its malacofauna. After parking on the west side of Blanding Blvd. near the Duval-Clay boundary, we launched our canoe from the right bank of McGirts and paddled upstream about an half-mile. Almost immediately we reached the NE corner of the tract and traced its northern boundary on our left while we proceeded roughly westward. Progress was leisurely as we sampled the sandy bottom and submerged vegetation in the tannin-stained but clear waters. Girding the serpiginous watercourse through much of this stretch is paralotic swampland. Here we occasionally put ashore in the cool shade and prospected for land snails on habitable patches within the hydric hammock, in which Bald-cypress, Red Maple, Sweetgum, and Tupelo were the dominant cover.

    It was a pleasant excursion. Furthermore, the periodically-edited species account in my field log indicates 22 species, all but four aquatic, were collected at this (extended) station. That's a healthy chunk of biodiversity - maybe not by ornithological standards, but reasonably robust by NE Florida molluscan measure; see Highlights among Northeast Florida non-marine mollusk survey locations.
These taxa are among those tabulated in the appendix below.

    In May of this year, Jacksonville Shell Club (JSC) member and scientific author, Heather McCarthy (McCarthy and Lisenby, 2010), asked me about the status of a NE Florida aquatic snail, Amnicola rhombostoma (F. Thompson, 1968) the Squaremouth Amnicola, described from Peters Creek in Clay Co. and historically known from less than a dozen places in Clay, Putnam and St. Johns Cos. Heather could find no evidence the species had been collected since 1981. Since I had reason to believe it might be living in McGirts Creek, Heather called a meeting at the newly-opened Marine Science Research Institute of Jacksonville University (site of the October 27 JSC meeting). On September 13 I met Heather and two St. Johns Riverkeeper professionals, Jimmie Orth and Kelly Savage, in Jimmie's office. We ultimately decided to join forces with DAS President Pete Johnson, who kindly allowed Heather, Kelly, and me entry through the south gate of the Crosby at 427 Aquarius Concourse in a quiet NW Orange Park neighborhood three weeks later. Pete also served as our guide for about three hours as we trekked through parts of the sanctuary. The initial segment of the walk was through disturbed, mostly-cleared high ground. Shortly, we entered the bottomland swamp and later emerged at the power-line sward less than a half mile to the north. This area is a very boggy grassland maintained by the power company. We then slogged approximately eastward in the sward and encountered what appeared to be a southern tributary of McGirts Creek.

    Although we failed to find the Squaremouth Amnicola, we did encounter lots of aquatic snails along the trek, and they, along with a brace of clams and eight land snails yielded a total count of 16 species for the portion of the tract we managed to cover. All are included in the appendix below and bring the cumulative Crosby Sanctuary mollusk species inventory to 30 species. The three largest aquatic snails have particular resonance with the Crosby Sanctuary, the St. Johns River, and in the history of science. Each is discussed below.

Viviparus georgianus (I. Lea, 1834) Banded Mysterysnail    Viviparus georgianus (I. Lea, 1834), the Banded Mysterysnail, has the distinction of being one of the 29 species described in the first scientific conchological publication by an American author (Say, 1817). Although he suspected it was somewhat different, Thomas Say (1787-1834) nonetheless identified his material as Lymnaea vivipara and referred to Helix vivipara Linnaeus (1758: 772-773; species 603) as presented by the Englishman William Donovan (1801: plate 87). This latter taxon is now recognized as exclusively Old World in distribution. Seventeen years later, a fellow Philadelphia Quaker, Isaac Lea (1792-1886), recognized this, described it as new to science, and gave it a new name, Paludina georgiana. This cognomen, after generic reassignment, is how we know this snail today, yet its relevant taxonomic history dates to the dawn of binominal nomenclature and even earlier (see Linnaeus, 1758). A Crosby specimen is here juxtaposed with Lea's type figure. The type locality is not far from here: "Hopeton, near Darien, Georgia" (Lea, 1834: 116: pl. 19, fig. 85). Many other non-marine mollusks were originally collected in or very near Hopeton, the plantation of James Hamilton Couper, a renaissance man who played a prominent role in the elucidation of the malacofauna of the Old South (Lee, 1978: 4-5). Taxa like Littoridinops tenuipes (Couper, 1844), Triodopsis hopetonensis, and Anodonta couperiana commemorate his industry.

    The Banded Mysterysnail has a very wide distribution in eastern North America (Clench, 1962), and it is particularly abundant and ubiquitous in the St. Johns River system, where their empty shells are the principal component of discrete, massive shell mounds on the flanks of the main river. Harvard Professor and Peabody Museum Director, Jeffries Wyman (1814-1874), arguably the original archaeomalacologist, meticulously studied all eighteen of these mounds along our river, a destination in part forced on him by poor health. His sentinel work (Wyman, 1875) had not quite come to press when he died suddenly, but friends saw to its posthumous publication. Although these extensive mounds' raison d'être had been a mystery for many years, by placing the billions of Viviparus shells in context with archaeological evidence of human activity, he proved that they were in fact kitchen middens and reflected centuries of Native American habitation and resource exploitation.

    To my initial bafflement, two living adult Viviparus intertextus (Say, 1829a: 244), each about an inch in height, were found by blindly netting the swampwater substrate at a culvert under the earthen causeway which was our northward pathway (see image at top of page). The point was about half the 0.4 mi distance from the gate to the power line swath. The Rotund Mysterysnail is predominantly an inhabitant of the Ohio-Mississippi and Mobile River Systems (Clench and Fuller, 1965), and its presence in Florida had previously only been hypothetical (Thompson, 1984: 17; 2004) and then possibly only in the panhandle (Thompson, 2004: species 13b). Say's description of Paludina intertexta was reprinted in Binney (1858: 146) and is reproduced below. While there was no type figure, the author redescribed and figured this species in his magnum opus, American Conchology, two years later (Say, 1831: pl. 30, fig 3, 3a). Those figures, depicting two different shells, are here juxtaposed with images of one of the Crosby specimens.

Paludina intertexta Viviparus intertextus (Say, 1829) Rotund Mysterysnail
Say's description of Paludina intertexta

Paludina intertexta juvenile     A few days later, I dissected the two specimens and found about a dozen juveniles in the "uterus" of each. The very friable, flat-topped shells of these "embryos" varied in size from 2 to 3 mm and had a very different appearance from the adult shells from which they were taken and from unborn of V. georgianus. They are perfectly represented in an engraving taken from Haldeman (1871: pl. 10, figs. 5, 6). Besides yielding some insight into the allometric growth of this species and the fundamental morphological differences between it and V. georgianus, this discovery unequivocally documents reproduction in this novel, isolated population. In their own small way, these Rotund Mysterysnails and their story emphasize the value of aquatic preserves and lend the Crosby Sanctuary a little more credence as a refuge in this world of rampant growth and habitat destruction.

    Pomacea paludosa (Say, 1829) is aptly dubbed the Florida Applesnail as it is endemic to our state. Like the Banded Mysterysnail, when it was originally reported in the scientific literature, the name applied to it required correction. In this instance, it was not a misidentification but a nomenclatorial gaffe that accounted for the problem. Initially the name Ampullaria depressa Say, 1824 was introduced for snails collected by Say in 1818 at "Mr. Fatio's Plantation" (Say, 1824: 12, 13; plate 14, fig. 3) and by John Eatton LeConte (1784 – 1860), who conducted an official expedition to discover the source of the St. Johns River under the auspices of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun in 1822 (Lee, 1978: 6-7). This LeConte, like his brother, son and nephews of the same surname, was a renaissance naturalist in the style of their Georgia low country neighbor, James Hamilton Couper (Lee, 1978: 4-7). Beside bringing to light several mollusks, J. E. LeConte discovered new herps, mammals, insects, and plants during his peregrinations in the American Southeast in the service of the US Army Corps of Engineers

     It seems quite likely a son of Francis Philip Fatio (1724-1811), a Swiss immigrant turned Florida planter (Historical marker) on the St. Johns River in New Switzerland, St. Johns Co., was host to Thomas Say and his party in early 1818 (see Lee, 2007 and Daedalochila auriculata (Say, 1818) Ocala Liptooth). The elder Fatio had welcomed William Bartram, Say's great uncle, 44 years earlier < >. Beside the first scientifically-collected Florida Applesnail, Say found the type material of the Florida endemic landsnail, Polygyra [now Daedalochila] avara, in the "orange groves of Mr. Fatio" (Say, 1818: 276) during the visit.

    As mentioned above, Thomas Say's original name for this applesnail, Ampullaria depressa is not legit. From the early days of binominal nomenclature, and as now codified in the provisions of the "Code" (ICZN, 1999: Article 52), the name A. depressa Say was unavailable for purposes of taxonomic nomenclature because it is a primary junior homonym of A. depressa Lamarck, 1804 [a Middle Eocene marine moonsnail-like fossil and type of the genus Ampullina Bowdich, 1822 (now Campaniloidea: Ampullinidae)]. Five years later, after Say had rusticated himself in New Harmony, Indiana, he indicated the nomenclatorial predicament and replaced his Ampullaria depressa with A. paludosa (Say, 1829b: 260; Say, 1840: 22). It is by this time-honored cognomen, after generic reassignment, that the Florida Applesnail has been known since. A fine rendition of a living specimen is figured here: Pomacea paludosa hand colored plate.

    Thus, through just the small lens of malacology, the history of geographic and biological exploration has weaved a fine fabric, one which envelops Riverkeepers, ecologists, conservationists, and other votaries of the natural environment. The vision of the Crosbys and the DAS, who have endowed posterity with the framework to appreciate this rich heritage, should be applauded.

    Acknowledgements: The author expresses his gratitude to the DAS and Pete Johnson for the opportunity to conduct this study and for the provision of the habitat photograph used in this report, to Heather McCarthy for the germination of the project, and to these two individuals and Kelly Savage for excellent leadership and assistance in the field. William Frank is thanked for professional editing of the images and formatting the text and Richard I. Johnson for sharing his copy of the "holy grail" of American malacology, Thomas Say's first conchological work (Say, 1817).


Mollusca of the DAS Crosby Sanctuary, Orange Park, Clay Co., Florida
Phylogenetic order and linked to figure(s), not necessarily Crosby Sanctuary specimens: 1980 = A; 2010 = B

Aquatic species
Elliptio ahenea (I. Lea, 1847) Southern Lance A
Elliptio jayensis (I. Lea, 1838) Florida Spike A
Elliptio occulta (I. lea, 1834) Hidden Spike A B
Taxolasma paulum (I. Lea, 1840) Iridescent Lilliput A
Uniomerus carolinianus (Bosc, 1801) Florida Pondhorn A
Eupera cubensis (Prime, 1865) Mottled Fingernailclam A
Pisidium punctiferum (Guppy, 1867) Striate Peaclam A (non native species)
Sphaerium occidentale (Lewis, 1856) Herrington Peaclam A B
Campeloma floridense (Call, 1886) Purple-throat Campeloma A
Viviparus georgianus (I. Lea, 1834) Banded Mysterysnail A B
Viviparus intertextus (Say, 1829) Rotund Mysterysnail B
Pomacea paludosa (Say, 1829) Florida Applesnail A B
Amnicola dalli johnsoni (Pilsbry, 1899) North Peninsula Amnicola A
Aphaostracon rhadinum F. Thompson, 1968 Slough Hydrobe A
Floridobia fraterna (F. Thompson, 1968) Creek Siltsnail A
Pseudosuccinea columella (Say, 1817) Mimic Lymnaea A
Physella heterostropha (Say, 1817) Pewter Physa A B
Planorbella duryi (Wetherby, 1879) Seminole Rams-horn A B
Laevapex fuscus (C.B. Adams, 1841) Dusky Ancylus A
Terrestrial species
Gastrocopta tappaniana (C.B. Adams, 1841) White Snaggletooth B
Pupisoma dioscoricola (C.B. Adams, 1845) Yam Babybody B
Oxyloma effusum (L. Pfeiffer, 1853) Coastal Plain Ambersnail A
Punctum minutissimum (I. Lea, 1841) Small Spot A B
Euconulus trochulus (Reinhart, 1883) Silk Hive A B
Glyphyalinia umbilicata (Singley in Cockerell, 1893) Texas Glyph B
Hawaiia minuscula (A. Binney, 1841) Minute Gem B
Ventridens demissus (A. Binney, 1843) Perforate Dome B
Euglandina rosea (Férussac, 1821) Rosy Wolfsnail A
Mesodon thyroidus (Say, 1817) White-lip Globe B
Polygyra cereolus (Mühlfeld, 1816) Southern Flatcoil B

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Clench, W. J., 1962. A catalogue of the Viviparidae of North America with notes on the distribution of Viviparus georgianus Lea. Occ. Pap. Mollusks 2:261-287.

Clench, W. J. and S. L. H. Fuller, 1965. The genus Viviparus (Viviparidae) in North America. Occ. Pap. Mollusks 2(32):261-287. July 9.

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Lee, H. G., 2007. The Ocala Liptooth reprised after ninescore years. Shell-O-Gram 48(5): 1, 3-4. September. See also Daedalochila auriculata (Say, 1818) Ocala Liptooth.

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< >

McCarthy, H. P. and L. M. Lisenby, 2010. Sandhills, swamps, & sea islands Environmental guidebook to northeast Florida. University of North Florida Environmental Center, Jacksonville. x + 1-276. August.

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Say, T., 1818. Account of two new genera, and several new species, of fresh water and land shells. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1(2): 276-284.

Say, T., 1824. Appendix Section I. Zoology pp. 1-104 [mollusks 5-13 + plates 14-15] in Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter's River, etc., under the command of Major Stephen H. Long. Long's Expedition 2. Philadelphia. vi+ 1-248 + 1-156. < #> [see "pp." 252 and (second iteration) 12, 13].

Say, T., 1829a. Descriptions of some new terrestrial and fluviatile shells of North America [second installment]. The New Harmony disseminator of useful knowledge 2: 243-258. Aug. 12. Not seen, but reprinted in Say, 1840 [q.v] and available on-line at <> [see pp. 20-21] and see Binney (1858: 146).

Say, T., 1829b. Descriptions of some new terrestrial and fluviatile shells of North America [third installment]. The New Harmony disseminator of useful knowledge 2: 259-265. Aug. 26. Not seen, but reprinted in Say, 1840 [q.v]  and on-line at <> [see pp. 22] and see Binney (1858: 147).

Say, T., "1830" [1831]. American Conchology, or descriptions of the shells of North America. Illustrated by colored figures from original drawings executed from nature 3. Thomas Say, New Harmony, Indiana. [40 pp., unpaginated] + pls. 21-30. Sept.; Sept.

Say, T. [ed. L. Say], 1840, Descriptions of some terrestrial and fluviatile shells of North America. 1829, 1830, 1831. Lucy Say, New Harmony, IN. Title page + [i] + [5]-26. After March. <>.

Thompson, F. G., 1984. The freshwater snails of Florida A manual for identification. University of Florida Press, Gainesville. x + 1-24.

Thompson, F. G., 2004. The freshwater snails of Florida A manual for identification. Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville. <>; last edited 6 March.

Wyman, J., 1875. Fresh-water shell mounds of the St. John's River, Florida. Memoirs of the Peabody Academy of Science 1(4): 3-94.