, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 907-916
Date: 12 Sep 2007

Assessing the conservation status of the land snail Oreohelix peripherica wasatchensis (Family Oreohelicidae)

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Establishing conservation priorities for invertebrate groups has proven difficult as many proposed units of diversity are based on morphological features that do not reflect evolutionary history. This confusion is confounded by poorly defined ranges of proposed endemic and endangered groups, leading to problems formulating adequate conservation management strategies. We examined one such group, Oreohelix peripherica wasatchensis, a land-snail located in the Wasatch Front Range of Utah that is a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act. We employed a broad sampling approach to determine the current range of O. p. wasatchensis, including the type locality, several localities in the surrounding Wasatch Mountains, and localities throughout Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. From these samples, we sequenced the mitochondrial DNA loci 12S and Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI) and nuclear loci Internal Transcribed Spacers 1 and 2 (ITS1 and ITS2) and 5.8S. We estimated phylogenetic relationships using maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses. Molecular data and radula morphology data indicate that the group identified as O. p. wasatchensis falls into two distinct clades. We recommend further ecological and population assessments of these two distinct mitochondrial clades based on the newly defined range to evaluate its endangered status under the IUCN criteria.