Researchers from Russia have counted and classified all snails in the Arctic. This will help study how climate change affects them.
Micro-fugitive gastropods are snails less than five millimeters in size. They represent one of the least studied groups of metazoid living organisms in the oceans. Researchers from St. Petersburg University have summarized all currently known information about the species composition and lifestyle of these animals in the eastern part of the Arctic.
They found that the region was home to at least 66 species of microbial gastropods, belonging to four subclasses. Two species have already been described in recent studies. In addition, two more descriptions are being prepared for publication. The researchers also described important details of the internal structure and sequence of genes traditionally used in animal classification.
According to Ivan Nekhaev, the biological diversity of the Arctic has been studied extremely unevenly. There is a relatively large amount of data on large animals that are easy to see. However, they have little information about micromolluscs. Scientists need this information in order to understand the nature of the Arctic and how it develops. Researchers have now focused on how fauna was formed and how ecosystems respond to climate change related to human activities.
Arctic molluscs are regularly featured prominently in climate change publications. For example, scientists have found that snails living in more southern areas are found in northern territories. However, the researchers do not have a sufficient scientific base to understand the reasons for the migration – the researchers do not have comprehensive data on the types of micromollusks.