Land Snail Field Trip

The 2011 AMS Land Snail Field Trip will be held Thursday, 28 July at Powdermill Nature Reserve (PNR), the field station of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The nature reserve is located in the mid-Appalachian region in Westmoreland County in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania (Lat 40.16020N Long 79.27180W). The nature reserve includes 890 hectares (2200 acres) of extensive, mature second growth deciduous forest with some early and late successional old fields, small streams, a few small ponds, wetlands, and a mine drainage treatment pond.

We will depart from the AMS conference area at Duquesne University at 8:30am, arriving at PNR about 10am. We will park at the Nature Center, where restrooms are available.

We will walk north 5 minutes up the road to the pond beside the bird banding lab. Another 10 minute walk further north into the woods will bring us to a locality that has about 3 times the snail diversity of about 60 other locations I have sampled on the property.

We will gather about 12:30 for lunch at the Nature Center. You are free to walk anywhere on the property, but be back at the van by 1:15. We will head back to Pittsburgh at 1:30, arriving at the AMS conference area at Duquesne University by 3:30.

Discomforts: spines of multiflora rose and green briar, poison ivy (sparse along the trails), mosquitoes. Dress appropriately for the weather. Trails are sometimes a little muddy.

More than 50 species of land snails and slugs have been found on the reserve. Regarding freshwater mollusks, you can find Physa cf gyrina in the marsh machine (sustainable water treatment facility at the Nature Center). While there are ponds and small streams, surveys have not found any Unionidae. I am not aware of any other surveys for freshwater snails or Sphaeriidae.

Yes, you may collect mollusks on this field trip. Participants will receive a copy of a guide to the conspicuous (>6mm) land snail species of PNR. A list of species (including minute species) previously found on the nature reserve is at this link. (I do not guarantee you will find all these species; but maybe you will find others!).

For more information, please contact field trip leader Tim Pearce,, phone 412-622-1916.

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