Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 721–735 | Cite as

Urbanization impacts on land snail community composition

  • Mackenzie N. Hodges
  • Michael L. McKinneyEmail author


Urbanization has tremendous impacts on most native species. This is especially true in land snails, which are surprisingly understudied organisms. Due to their low mobility and dispersal potential, land snails are valuable indicators of ecosystem disturbance. For this study, land snails were collected in 54 city parks along an urban gradient to understand impacts of urbanization on snail communities. Sampled parks include small extensively landscaped downtown parks, neighborhood and community parks, district parks, and large nature parks, each with variable vegetation, soil characteristics, disturbance regimes, and human activities. Sampling recovered 12,153 individual snails, representing 20 families, 43 genera, and 95 species. Seven new Tennessee state and 87 new county occurrences were recorded. Five non-native and one extra-limital non-native species were found, four of which are new Tennessee state records. Results show that urbanization greatly alters land snail community structure. Nature and district parks have significantly greater species richness, species diversity and species evenness than community, neighborhood, and downtown parks. Degradation of parks, distance from the park to the commercial city center and percent of coarse woody debris accounted for most of the variation between park types. Non-metric multidimensional scaling and pairwise Jaccard indices indicate that downtown snail communities are more similar whereas snail communities in nature parks are more distinct. This suggests that urbanization promotes homogenization among land snail communities. We also show that this homogenization is thus far driven mainly by synanthropic, broadly adapted native species rather than non-native snail species.


Urbanization Snails Gastropods Non-native Exotic Community similarity Homogenization 


  1. Adler F, Tanner CJ (2013) Urban ecosystems. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, 382 ppCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aronson MF, La Sorte FA, Nilon CH, Goddard MA (2014) A global analysis of the impacts of urbanization on bird and plant diversity reveals key anthropogenic drivers. Proc R Soc B 281:20133330CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Barker GM (2001) Chapter 1: gastropods on land: phylogeny, diversity, and adaptive morphology. In: Barker GM (ed) The biology of terrestrial mollusks. CABI Publishing, New York, pp 1–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baur A, Baur B (1988) Individual movement patterns of the minute land snail Punctum pygmaeum (Draparnaud)(Pulmonata: Endodontidae). Veliger 30:372–376Google Scholar
  5. Beyer WN, Saari DM (1977) Effect of tree species on the distribution of slugs. J Anim Ecol 46:697–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bergey EA, Figueroa LL (2016) Residential yards as designer ecosystems: effects of yard management on land snail species composition. Ecol Appl 26:2538–2547. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burch JB (1955) Some ecological factors of the soil affecting the distribution and abundance of land snails in eastern Virginia. The Nautilus 69:62–69Google Scholar
  8. Burch JB (1962) How to know the eastern land snail. In: William C (ed) Brown Company Publishers, Dubuque, 214 ppGoogle Scholar
  9. Caldwell RS (1993) Biodiversity and coarse woody debris in southern forests. Proceedings of the workshop on coarse woody debris in southern forests: effects on biodiversity. In: McMinn J, Crossley DA (eds) Macroinvertebrates and their relationship to coarse woody debris: with special reference to land snails. Southern Research Station, Athens, pp 49, 156 pp–54Google Scholar
  10. Chiba S (2010) Invasive non-native species’ provision of refugia for endangered native species. Conserv Biol 24:1141–1147CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Chiba S, Roy K (2011) Selectivity of terrestrial gastropod extinctions on an oceanic archipelago and insights into the anthropogenic extinction process. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108:9496–9501CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Clergeau P, Noelie T, Benoit F (2011) A simplified method for conducting ecological studies of land snail communities in urban landscapes. Ecol Res 26:515–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Douglas DD, Brown DR, Pederson N (2013) Land snail diversity can reflect degrees of anthropogenic disturbance. Ecosphere 4:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dourson DC (2010) Kentucky’s land snails and their ecological communities. Goatslug Publications, Bakersville, NC, 298 ppGoogle Scholar
  15. Faeth SH, Bang C, Saari S (2011) Urban biodiversity: patterns and mechanisms. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1223:69–81CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fontaine B, Olivier G, Eike N (2007) Priority sites for conservation of land snails in Gabon: testing the umbrella species concept. Divers Distrib 13:725–734CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frest TJ, Johannes EJ (1995) Interior Columbia Basin mollusk species of special concern. Final report: Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, Walla Walla, WA. Deixis Consultants, Seattle, WA. Contract #43-0E00-4-9112. 274 ppGoogle Scholar
  18. Frest, T.J. (2002). Native snails: indicators of ecosystem health. In: Wuerthner G & Matteson, M. (eds) Welfare ranching. Island Press, Sausalito pp. 211-215Google Scholar
  19. Guette A, Gaüzère P, Devictor V, Jiguet F, Godet F (2017) Measuring the synanthropy of species and communities to monitor the effects of urbanization on biodiversity. Ecol Indic 79:139–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Horsák M, Juřičková L, Kintrová K, Hájek O (2009) Patterns of land snail diversity over a gradient of habitat degradation: a comparison of three Czech cities. Biodivers Conserv 18:3453–3466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Horsák M, Lososová Z, Čejka T, Juřičková L, Chytrý M (2013) Diversity and biotic homogenization of urban land-snail faunas in relation to habitat types and macroclimate in 32 central European cities. PLoS One 8:e71783CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Hotopp KP (2002) Land snails and soil calcium in central Appalachian Mountain Forest. Southeast Nat 1:27–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hotopp KP, Pearce T, Nekola JC, Slapcinsky J, Dourson D, Winslow M, Kimber G, Watson B (2013) Land snails and slugs of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States. Online Resource:
  24. Hubricht L (1985) The distributions of the native land mollusks of the Eastern United States. Fieldiana, Zoology New Ser: 24, 191 ppGoogle Scholar
  25. Koleff P, Gaston KJ, Lennon JJ (2003) Measuring beta diversity for presence–absence data. J Anim Ecol 72:367–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Knop E (2016) Biotic homogenization of three insect groups due to urbanization. Glob Chang Biol 22:228–236CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kruskal J (1964) Nonmetric multidimensional scaling: a numerical method. Psychometrika 29:115–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kühn I, Klotz S (2006) Urbanization and homogenization – comparing the floras of urban and rural areas in Germany. Biol Conserv 127:292–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lososová Z, Horsák M, Chytrý M, Čejka T, Danihelka J, Fajmon K, Hájek O, Juřičková L, Kintrová K, Láníková D, Otýpková Z (2011) Diversity of Central European urban biota: effects of human-made habitat types on plants and land snails. J Biogeogr 38:1152–1163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lydeard C, Cowie RH, Ponder WF, Bogan AE, Bouchet P, Clark SA, Cummings KS, Frest TJ, Gargominy O, Herbert DG, Hershler R, Perez KE, Roth B, Seddon M, Strong EE, Thompson FG (2004) The global decline of nonmarine mollusks. Bioscience 54:321–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McCune B, Grace JB (2002) Analysis of ecological communities. MjM Software Design, Glenden BeachGoogle Scholar
  32. McKinney ML (2002) Urbanization, biodiversity, and conservation. Bioscience 52:883–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McKinney ML (2006) Urbanization as a major cause of biotic homogenization. Biol Conserv 127:247–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McKinney ML (2008) Effects of urbanization on species richness: a review of plants and animals. Urban Ecosyst 11:161–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Murthy AC, Fristoe TS, Burger JR (2016) Homogenizing effects of cities on North American winter bird diversity. Ecosphere 7:e01216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Olden JD, Rooney TP (2006) On defining and quantifying biotic homogenization. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 15:113–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pilsbry HA (1940) Land mollusca of north America (north of Mexico). Volume I, Part II. The Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia, Philadelphia. pp 575–994Google Scholar
  38. Pilsbry HA (1946) Land mollusca of north America (north of Mexico). Volume II, Part I. The Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, pp 1–520Google Scholar
  39. Pilsbry HA (1948) Land mollusca of north America (north of Mexico). Volume II, Part II. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, pp 521–1113Google Scholar
  40. Rhodes AM (1998) Method for the preparation and quantification of microscopic charcoal from terrestrial and lacustrine sediment cores. The Holocene 8:113–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rouget M, Robertson MP, Wilson JRU, Hui C, Essl F, Renteria JL, Richardson DM (2016) Invasion debt - quantifying future biological invasions. Divers Distrib 22:445–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Saxton AM (1998) A macro for converting mean separation output to letter groupings in Proc Mixed. In Proc. 23rd SAS Users Group International, SAS Institute, Cary, NC, pp 1243–1246Google Scholar
  43. Seto KC, Guneralp B, Hutyra LR (2012) Global forecasts of urban expansion to 2030 and direct impacts on biodiversity and carbon pools. PNAS 109:16083–16088CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Shochat E, Lerman SB, Anderies JM, Warren PS, Faeth SH, Nilon CH (2010) Invasion, competition, and biodiversity loss in Urban Ecosyst. Bioscience 60:199–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ström L, Hylander K, Dynesius M (2009) Different long-term and short-term responses of land snails to clear-cutting of boreal stream-side forests. Biol Conserv 142:1580–1587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. US Census Bureau (2015) Accessed 11 Feb. 2016
  47. Vermeulen JJ, Liew TS, Schilthuizen M (2015) Additions to the knowledge of the land snails of Sabah (Malaysia, Borneo), including 48 new species. ZooKeys 531:1–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yanes Y (2012) Anthropogenic effect recorded in the live-dead fidelity of land snail assemblages from San Salvador Island (Bahamas). Biodivers Conserv 21:3445–3466CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Earth & Planetary SciencesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations