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Photo credit: USFWS

Banbury Springs limpet (Lanx sp.) | ESA status: endangered

Banbury Springs limpet

The Banbury Springs limpet, a small aquatic snail found in south-central Idaho, was listed as endangered in 1992. Without enough habitat, its populations have not recovered.

Banbury Springs limpet habitat

The Banbury Springs limpet (or lanx) occurs at four springs along the middle Snake River in south-central Idaho. The snail is known for its distinctive cinnamon-red, conical, pyramid-like shell. It has only been found in spring-fed, clear, cold, well-oxygenated water. The limpet appears to be adapted to relatively swift currents, as its conical shape may help it to adhere to boulders and cobbles.

What are the threats to the Banbury Springs limpet?

Scientists believe that the Banbury Springs limpet once occurred in greater numbers and at more sites along the Snake River. Myriad threats have reduced the species’ range and continue to threaten remaining populations, including habitat loss from groundwater pumping; pollution from agricultural runoff, herbicides and pesticides; increasing water temperatures; the accumulation of excess nitrogen and phosphorus in surface and groundwater; invasive species; and climate change.

Seeking to reverse the limpet’s sinking fortunes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the snail as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act in 1992. However, FWS declined to designate critical habitat for the limpet pursuant to the Act. Imperiled species cannot recover, proliferate, or expand their range without sufficient quality habitat. Listed species with critical habitat designations are more likely to recover than those without such designations.

What WildEarth Guardians is doing to preserve the Banbury Springs limpet

While listing may have prevented the extinction of the Banbury Springs limpet, the species has not recovered. The snail, currently confined to four isolated colonies, has no avenues for dispersal or range expansion. The limpet cannot persist without the pristine riparian habitat it needs to survive. We have launched an effort to aid this ailing species by petitioning the Secretary of the Interior to designate critical habitat along the middle Snake River in order to protect remaining populations of the Banbury Springs limpet and support recolonization of suitable habitat.