Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ventridens ligera lazarus

Although I've been slow to post lately, I've been busily on the snail. Mostly, right now, I've been scouring the drift materials in the creeks close to my rented room in Ithaca. And though it doesn't do much for locality data it does give me a bumper crop to explore and identify.

Another thing I wanted to do was to start really getting into dissecting so that, when in doubt (*cough succineidae cough*) I could pull out the scalpel, pins, and probe and get to the bottom of things. With that in mind on Monday morning before I left for work (~7am) I dropped a Ventridens ligera (Globose Dome) into a jar of water completely without air bubbles. I went about my day, birding, work, gym, etc and about 10pm I got around to pulling him out for dissection. Sure enough I threw him down in a dissecting tray, walked away for a couple minutes and came back to him right side up. A poke and he was retracted into his shell. Stymied!

I dropped him back in water (so this is about 10:30pm on Monday). Tuesday came and went and I couldn't find time to dissect. Fast forward to a few minutes ago (Wednesday at 10pm) and I looked at the jar, saw the snail really lost most of his color, and figured he had expired. Again I pulled on my gloves and readied my makeshift laboratory (I hope the woman I rent my room from isn't reading my blog because I'm sure snail dissection isn't tops on the list of things she'd like me to be doing in this big manicured house I rent a room in). I placed him on the tray and, sure enough, he retracted in. Curious, I put him under the microscope and could see that he was respirating. This means my little Ventridens ligera (lazarus as a cute  play-- I know he didn't die and come back to life, but I had assumed him dead at one point) had been submerged without oxygen for about 48 hours and has not expired. Seems like a fairly long time to be without oxygen. Me, I tend to not go more than 30 seconds at at time without it. Less if I can help it. One of the many reasons I don't swim: I heart oxygen. But apparently little Lazarus doesn't have fully the same feelings, though I'm sure he'd prefer oxygen to a slow watery death if he could communicate.

Interestingly I collected this little fellow along a railroad track that lies in a definite floodplain. It's a little setback from the Susquehanna River-- too far for the river proper to get to, even in the days before the dike, but the creek systems that pour from the mountains to the river to pass right in the spot and the area is very prone to flooding, particularly in spring. In fact, the road that is right next to this area is often closed due to flooding and on either side of the tracks are pools of water that remain year round and overflow during these periods of flood. Along the tracks I found these snails in abundance alongside an unidentified small succineidae species. Mostly they resided under woody and leafy debris. 

Part of me wanted to see if I left the snail out if he would be able to recover but I dropped him back in water to dissect another day.

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