FWGNA > Species Accounts > Hydrobiidae > Fontigens turritella
Fontigens turritella (Hubricht 1976)

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> Habitat & Distribution

Populations of F. turritella are known only from the two closely-neighboring caves in Greenbrier County, West Virginia from which the species was described (Hershler et al. 1990).   A broad-brush review of the zoogeography of North American cavesnails has been offered by Hershler & Holsinger (1990).  FWGNA incidence unranked.

> Ecology & Life History

Fontigens turritella is apparently a stygobiont, obligately adapted to the cave environment.  We are not aware of any good study on the life history of any population in the genus  Fontigens, stygobiontic or otherwise.  But populations (of all species) typically seem to maintain constant densities year round, as though reproduction might be continuous.  This would certainly seem a reasonable assumption for F. turritella, living nearly divorced from seasonal cues.  The waters of limestone caves are (of course) rich in minerals, but poor in organics.  Presumably the entire ecosystem of F. turritella is based on fine organic matter raining down from the lighted world above.

> Taxonomy & Systematics

This species is among the most rare and obscure of the nine Fontigens species monographed by Hershler and colleagues (1990).  Hubricht (1976) described the animal as "unpigmented and blind," going on to observe that it differs from all Fontigens other than F. nickliniana by the elongate shape of its shell, and differs from F. nickliniana by virtue of penial morphology.  Like other members of the subfamily Fontigentinae, F. turritella bears a rather striking multiply-ducted penis.  Although their species-level taxonomy has been stable since 1976, their assignment to the Hydrobiidae (ss) by Wilke et al. (2013) was rather tentative.

> Essays

  • Earlier versions of this website, online until August of 2016, adopted the large, broadly-inclusive concept of the Hydrobiidae (sl) following Kabat & Hershler (1993).  More recently the FWGNA project has shifted to the Wilke et al. (2013) classification system, distinguishing a much smaller Hydrobiidae (ss) and elevating many hydrobioid taxa previously ranked as subfamilies to the full family level.  For more details, see The Classification of the Hydrobioids.

> References

Hershler, R. H. & J. R. Holsinger (1990)  Zoogeography of North American hydrobiid cavesnails.  Stygologia 5: 5-16.
Hershler, R., J.R. Holsinger & L. Hubricht (1990) A revision of the North American freshwater snail genus Fontigens (Prosobranchia: Hydrobiidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 509:1-49,  
Hubricht, L. (1963)  New species of Hydrobiidae.  Nautilus 76: 138 - 140.
Hubricht, L. (1976)  The genus Fontigens from Appalachian caves (Hydrobiidae: Mesogastropoda).  Nautilus 90:86 - 88.
Kabat, A.R., and R. Hershler (1993) The prosobranch snail family Hydrobiidae (Gastropoda: Rissooidea): review of classification and supraspecific taxa. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 547:1-94.  
Wilke T., Haase M., Hershler R., Liu H-P., Misof B., Ponder W. (2013)  Pushing short DNA fragments to the limit: Phylogenetic relationships of “hydrobioid” gastropods (Caenogastropoda: Rissooidea).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 715 – 736.