Whorl snails

There are eight species of the tiny whorl snails in Ireland, and three are protected under Annex II of the Habitats Directive,Vertigo geyeriV. angustior and V. moulinsiana.

These species are all dependant on stable and specific ground water conditions, and as they only live for just over a year, they are vulnerable to the effects of negative changes in wetness conditions and have been lost from many sites both in Ireland and across the EU.

The Republic of Ireland has 14 SACs for Vertigo geyeri, 12 for V. angustior, and 7 for V. moulinsiana, a few of which overlap, and with one SAC hosting all three species.

NPWS funded a monitoring programme to assess the condition of the populations of the three Vertigo species within their SACs, and at a range of representative sites outside SACs throughout their range in the country. This research was carried out between 2008 and 2010. The results were published as Irish Wildlife Manual 55  [3,355B].

The monitoring assessed the amount and the quality of habitat present for each of the species at the sites being studied, and surveys also sampled repeated transects in more detail to identify more subtle changes in the micro-habitats of these very small species.

The results of the survey work will be maintained in a database that will allow useful comparison during repeat visits, aid the conservation of the sites by providing management recommendations, and assess the condition of the sites for six year EU reporting.