New York Field Office
Northeast Region

Chittenango Ovate Amber Snail (Novisuccinea chittenangoensis):

The Chittenango ovate amber snail (COAS) is federally threatened and listed as endangered by the state of New York. Main threats to COAS include limited range, human trampling of habitat and snails, flooding, collapse of rock ledge above habitat, and invasive plant species.

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COAS have unique
shell markings

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The oldest COAS ever recorded,
Hatch Jr., is five years old

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Snail eyes are located at the
tips of sensory tentacles

Diet and Range:
The snails are only known to occur at Chittenango Falls State Park, Chittenango, New York. A captive breeding program at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) maintains a population of snails by feeding them leaf litter at specific stages of decomposition.

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Chittenango Falls State Park,
Chittenango, New York

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Leaves collected for the
snails at SUNY ESF

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Leaf after being munched
by a snail

Snail Lab at SUNY ESF:
The Snail Lab at SUNY ESF breeds COAS with hopes of increasing understanding of the species and bolstering populations in the wild. Snails are placed in an incubator within tubs of re-hydrated leaves. After a successful mating, female snails lay clusters of eggs.

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Biologist Cody Gilbertson kept
lab snails alive (her story)

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Incubator at the Snail Lab holds
containers of leaves and snails

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Eggs at the Snail Lab (black
dots are developing eyes)

COAS at Rosamond Gifford Zoo:
A secondary captive breeding population of COAS are located at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY. Like COAS at SUNY ESF’s
Snail Lab, snails at the zoo are stored in temperature controlled incubators.

Visit Rosamond Gifford Zoo's COAS Page

Current COAS Research:
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding has supported management and monitoring at the falls as well as the captive breeding populations of COAS located at SUNY ESF and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

Update: In 2019, 26 new snail hatchlings at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and 100 new hatchlings at SUNY ESF were raised with 50 hand reared adults being released back into the wild habitat at Chittenango Falls.

2019 Five Year Review
2017 ESF Press Release
2015 Captive Breeding Press Release

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COAS release crew from 2017, USFWS

 

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Emlyn Clark, a Master’s student in Dr. Rebecca Rundell’s lab at SUNY ESF, currently works with COAS in the Snail Lab.

“While my research is based mostly on Palau land snails, I also work with the native Chittenango ovate amber snail as the captive colony technician. I first got involved when Cody Gilbertson asked me to ‘Snail sit’ for her, and have loved these charming gastropods ever since. I make sure each terrarium is properly fed and cleaned, and also work to breed them and raise their offspring so that they can eventually be released back at Chittenango Falls.”
-Clark

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David Bullis, a PhD candidate at SUNY ESF, studies COAS evolution.

“I use a phylogenetic framework and museum collections to understand the evolutionary and biogeographic history of the Chittenango ovate amber snail.”
-Bullis

 

 

Additional Resources:

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COAS educational booklet

 

 

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NYS OPRHP Brochure

 

 

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CYNStories Short Video

Videos and Other Information:

Snail Induced, Stress and Success
COAS Podcast
“About a Snail” Video Part 1
“About a Snail” Video Part 2
Near-Extinct Snail Coaxed into Reproduction at ESF
COAS by Cody Gilbertson
Protecting New York’s Thumbnail-sized Snail
NYSDEC Fact Sheet

Recovery Documents:

Recovery Plan
Spotlight Species Action Plan

Contact:

For further information on the Chittenango ovate amber snail, please contact the New York Field Office at 607-753-9334. Office Email: FW5ES_NYFO@fws.gov

FWS Endangered Species Home PageFWS Endangered Species Northeast Region

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Last updated: September 18, 2020
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.