Hotwater Physa

Physella wrighti

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

The Hotwater Physa is a tiny freshwater snail with a high-spired shell that ranges between 3.25 - 9.1 mm in length, about the size of your smallest fingernail. The shell is blackish-grey in color and the surface is somewhat shiny, but not glossy. The shell has an ear-shaped opening and coils to the left. This species uses a pulmonary (lung) cavity to breathe, and is ectothermic, meaning individuals depend on the external environment to regulate their temperature. Hotwater Physa live to about one year of age.

Habitat

The Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park in northeastern British Columbia is the only place in the world where researchers have found the Hotwater Physa. As its name implies, this mollusc is adapted to live in water bodies of the Liard River hotsprings complex, which range in temperature from 23 to 40 °C. The Hotwater Physa can usually be found just above and below the surface of the water on mats of Chara (a type of alga), woody debris, or sediment. They can only survive in areas of little to no water flow.

Threats

Because they are found in only one location in Canada, Hotwater Physa are extremely vulnerable to anything that could affect their habitat. Potential threats to Hotwater Physa include: changes to the hotsprings' flow regime as a result of human activities, including weir maintenance; recreational activities; drilling activities for oil and gas exploration, and hydroelectric development; introduction of harmful substances; physical habitat destruction or alteration; introduced species; and collecting.

Further Information

In addition to the continued effort to standardize and improve survey methods for evaluating the Hotwater Physa population, several monitoring activities have been carried out. Public outreach activities include improved signage and a television feature on the Liard River Hot Springs. Morphological and genetic studies have also been performed to distinguish the Hotwater Physa from similar species. Finally, maintenance at the hotsprings facility has reduced its footprint on Hotwater Physa habitat. A Recovery Strategy was published in 2007, in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia, and an Action Plan is currently under development.

This species is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Hotwater Physa

Hotwater Physa

Hotwater Physa

Scientific Name: Physella wrighti
SARA Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Region: Northern British Columbia

Did You Know?

Hotwater Physa are hermaphrodites, meaning they have the reproductive organs associated with both male and female sexes.

Related Information