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Banff springs snails suffer because of climate change

In Banff National Park of Canada lives the Banff springs snail.  They exist nowhere else in the world outside of Banff National Park, and now they are threatened -- possibly due to climate change.

On PRI's The World, conservation biologist Dwayne Lepitzki spoke to Lisa Mullins about the snail.

Over the last 12 years, some of the thermal springs dried up in Banff National Park.  There are a few theories as to why, but Lepitzki thinks that the most plausible is climate change.  He believes that changes in precipitation are causing the springs to dry up, which used to be a rare occurrence, but is now becoming quite common.  Until 1996, the only recorded instance of any Sulphur Mountain thermal spring drying up was the Upper Hot Spring in 1923 -- and that's it.  

The snails live IN these springs, so when the springs dry up, they are losing their habitat.  

In 1999, Lepitzki said, "More than 60 per cent of all the species that have disappeared in the world over the past three centuries were mollusks.  If we lose the Banff snail, we’ll have lost an opportunity to learn how life can adapt to different environments," says Lepitzki. "We’ll have also lost a chance to ensure or restore the ecological integrity of a unique part of our national park." [source]

Listen to the interview at The World's website.