New tiny freshwater snail discovered in Greece

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A new species of minute snail has been discovered in a snow covered spring on Mt. Parnassos, central Greece, by researcher Canella Radea from University of Athens.

Daphniola eptalophos is named after its locality and has a transparent conical-flat coiled shell, grey-black pigmented soft body and head, and a black penis with a small colourless outgrowth on the left side near its base. 

The use of variable morphometric traits, including male and female genitalia, is a common method for distinguishing species and subspecies of this genus.

All specimens were found on the surface of small stones and dead leaves of a spring that was covered by a thick layer of snow. Notably, there were no other freshwater gastropods found to share the spring, and the low population density of the species was such that only 18 specimens were collected for analysis. This low density, coupled with the fact that D. eptalophos has been found in only this one spring, demonstrates a need for immediate monitoring and assessment of the population status of the new species.

The genus Daphniola is endemic to Greece, where it inhabits most of the mainland. Two of the three currently known species are included in the Endangered and Critically Endangered category of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

As with other localities of freshwater gastropods in Greece, this new species could also be under threat from habitat destruction. Most of these habitats are springs which are prone to changes as a result of urbanisation, water pollution, waste accumulation, tourism and agricultural practices. Effective conservation measures must be urgently taken to protect these localities before their unique gastropod fauna disappears.

For more information see the open access paper: Radea C (2011) A new species of hydrobiid snails (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Hydrobiidae) from central Greece. ZooKeys 138

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