Preliminary Results: Magnum Mantleslugs

Last fall we wrapped up project field work and we've been so busy this winter working on the huge dataset we collected we haven't had a spare moment to update the website!

Magnum Mantleslug (Magnipelta mycophaga). One of our 20 target Species of Greatest Conservation Need. (Photo courtesy Doug Albertson)

Over the past four years we surveyed every nook and cranny of our 919 5x5km survey cells. We successfully conducted invertebrate surveys in 880 cells, amphibian surveys in 783 cells, and forest carnivore surveys in 498 cells. We obtained permission to survey 170 privately owned ponds for amphibians and survey 150 Forest Inventory and Analysis Plots for invertebrates. We also maintained over 1,100 micro-climate data loggers for 1-4 years.  In all we've conducted standardized surveys for 183 species at 2,161 locations. But we won't count this as a success until our data are analyzed and published.

The MBI study area is divided into 919 5x5km survey cells (that's a study area size of 22,975 km2!)

Project biologists are spending this winter developing and finalizing databases to safely store and share our substantial dataset. We are using these databases to run sophisticated analyses from which we will learn ecological requirements of our study species. 

As we begin to map out our preliminary findings we plan to share them first here with you!

Over the next few months we'll periodically share species distribution maps and other results as they become available. We'll start with a species which has been emblematic of our project's purpose of increasing the knowledge-base of little understood species: Magnum Mantleslugs (Magnipelta mycophaga).

What a handsome slug! (photo courtesty Doug Albertson)

This a species we talk about a lot at MBI and has become a bit of a project mascot. The last verified Idaho detection of this species was in 1948 near Lolo Pass. 62 years passed with no official Idaho detections until the first MBI crew began to find the species at scattered locations across the Idaho Selkirks in 2010.

Four years later we've produced a map which shows where we conducted surveys for the species (purple fill cells) and where we detected the species (orange fill cells). This map shows that this species 1) still occurs in Idaho and 2) has a widespread but patchy distribution pattern. The map is not the final product. We are currently conducting an analysis for this species and about 50 other land snails which will describe the micro-climate and habitat characteristics which area associated with each species.

Click for full-size image

When we started this project it was unknown if Magnum Mantleslugs were even on the Idaho landscape. While we've already determined that they are still extant in Idaho our analysis will provide some understanding of how land management and micro-climate affect this species. This will enable us to make informed species management decisions.

For a species which hadn't been found since 1948, I'd say that's a pretty huge stride forward in just a few years!

Follow that slime trail! (photo courtesy Doug Albertson)