Island researchers trying to help Guam tree snails - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Island researchers trying to help Guam tree snails

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There will be a new species placed on the endangered list beginning this fall. They're small, harmless, and found only in Guam, but for the struggling Guam tree snail population, it may not be long before they go the way of other Guam snails, including two which have become increasingly rare, and a third which is now extinct.

KUAM News met with biologist Curt Fiedler at the site of a new research project in Asan Park. He said, "The north side of the ridge where we are now has a fairly large population, the south side of the ridge has unfortunately been inundated by little fire ants." In an effort to remove snails from a potentially harmful fire ant zone, volunteers from the National Park Service, the Department of Agriculture's Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, and the University of Guam relocated hundreds of the snails last week.

Fielder said, "What we did last week is we collected and marked about 300 snails, and we measured them and we moved them over here to different spots, and you can see the red tag over there - seven different locations - in the hopes that they'll do well over here and so far it looks pretty good."

Fiedler says this project is aimed to not only help the snails, but raise awareness in the community. He added, "They are endemic to Guam, only found on Guam, this particular species, and they are going to be listed either as threatened or endangered on the Endangered Species List."

The snails are affected not only by increased human activity, but also by invasive species. "Manacore flatworm was originally, well perhaps accidentally introduced to control the giant African snails you may see in your garden, and unfortunately those flatworms have done a number on our local native populations of tree snails," he explained.

Researchers will continue to monitor the snail population for the next three weeks. Fiedler says this relocation is just one part of a long-term project aimed at monitoring snail populations and preventing the extinction of these species.

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