Research was done to study the effects of rock climbing on the density, richness, diversity, and community composition of snails on the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario, Canada. The cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment provide habitat for extremely diverse communities of land snails that may be at risk as a result of recreational rock climbing. This includes the Vertigo bollesiana alongside twenty-four other species that were studied in the survey.  Studies were performed on randomly selected climbed and unclimbed sections of cliffs on the plateau (cliff edge), cliff face, and talus (cliff base). Snail density, richness, and diversity were lower along climbing routes than in unclimbed areas, and community composition differed between climbed and unclimbed samples. These results suggest that rock climbing has significant negative effects on all aspects of the snail community on cliffs; therefore, it’s recommended the inclusion of gastropods in conservation plans for protected areas containing cliffs (Larson, McMillan, Nekola, 2003).

This can be explained because the ledges and cracks in the vertical rock surface that are the primary habitat for cliff land snails are also the primary means by which climbers ascend the cliff face. The use of these microsites for hand and foot holds causes removal of the firm soil and organic matter, thereby decreasing the amount and quality of available habitat for snails. In some instances, climbers purposefully remove soil to increase the security of the hold and to reduce the chance of slipping (Larson, McMillan, Nekola, 2003). To read more follow this link.

chart displaying the effect of rock climbing in snail habitats