Endangered Species
Midwest Region



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The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Find a location near you


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Conserving and restoring threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems


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Iowa Pleistocene Snail (Discus macclintocki)

Fact Sheet


Line drawing of an Iowa Pleistocene snail.The Iowa Pleistocene snail is an endangered species. Endangered species are animals and plants that are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are animals and plants that are likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. Identifying, protecting, and restoring endangered and threatened species is the primary objective of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program.

What is the Iowa Pleistocene Snail?


These small land snails are only about 1/4-inch in diameter. Their shells are brown or greenish white.



The snails live in the leaf litter of special cool and moist hillsides called algific talus slopes. Cool air and water, from underground ice, flow out of cracks in the slopes and keep the ground temperatures below 50 degrees F in summer and above 14 degrees F in winter.



Iowa Pleistocene snails breed from late March to August. Two to six eggs are laid among the leaf litter and hatch in about 28 days. The snail's life span is about five to seven years.


Feeding Habits

The snails eat the fallen leaves of birch and maple trees and dogwood shrubs.



These snails have only been found at about 30 sites in Iowa and Illinois. Fossilized shells indicate they were once much more widespread during cooler glacial periods.


Why is the Iowa Pleistocene Snail endangered?

Habitat Loss or Degradation

The major long-term cause of snail population decline is climate change. The most immediate habitat threats are from logging, quarrying, road building, sinkhole filling and contamination, human foot traffic, livestock grazing and trampling, and misapplication of pesticides.


What is being done to prevent extinction of the Iowa Pleistocene snail?


The Iowa Pleistocene snail was listed as an endangered species in 1978.


Recovery Plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a recovery plan that describes actions that need to be taken to help the snail survive.


Habitat Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state, county, and private conservation agencies are all working to preserve the snail and its habitat. Some private landowners have entered into voluntary protection agreements.

What can I do to prevent the extinction of species?


Learn more about the Iowa Pleistocene snail and other endangered and threatened species. Understand how the destruction of habitat leads to loss of endangered and threatened species and our nation's plant and animal diversity. Tell others about what you have learned.



Join a conservation group; many have local chapters.




Last updated: March 12, 2018