The Banff Springs Snail and its Thermal Spring Habitat


Near the town of Banff in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada lives a little snail that is found no where else in the world. According to COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) and until the spring of 2010, it was the only species in Banff – Canada’s first national park – that was Endangered. This means that of all the plants and animals that live in Banff, it was the species most at-risk of going extinct. However in April 2010, COSEWIC also assessed the Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) as Endangered. This is a tree that is confined to high elevations in the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta, including Banff.

The endangered Banff Springs Snail (Physella johnsoni), in the Basin Spring pool at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Banff, Alberta.
A research and recovery program on the snail, its habitat, and threats has been ongoing since the fall of 1995. While the program has been funded in large part by Banff National Park, other contributors have included the Parks Canada Species at Risk Recovery Action and Education Fund, the Hot Springs Enterprise Unit of Parks Canada, the Endangered Species Recovery Fund (sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund – Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, and the Canadian Millennium Partnership Program), and the Bow Valley Naturalists.

Why is the snail here? Why is it important? Why should you care? This is a summary of what’s been learned and how you can help. We’ll explore the life of the snail as well as its fascinating habitat. This was written by the Principal Investigator, Dr. Dwayne A.W. Lepitzki, who has been on contract with Parks Canada since the fall of 1995 to study the Banff Springs Snail. Unless otherwise noted, all text, photos, graphs, and models are copyrighted by D.A.W. Lepitzki. He can be contacted through this BVN website.

Funding to help develop these webpage summaries was provided by a donor to BVN who wanted to help spread the word about the little snail.

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