Rocky Mountain snails in the genus Oreohelix go mostly unnoticed beneath layers of leaf litter in the western Mountain ranges. These snails are most common in rocky foothill habitat that consists of high-density deciduous groves of maple and oak. It is in this habitat where a great number of unobserved feeding behaviors occur. While some research indicates that terrestrial snails may prefer to feed on living plants, it is thought that Oreohelix are detritivores, feeding primarily on decomposing plant matter. In this study we investigated Oreohelix diet by designing a food preference experiment. We provided two food sources (Boxelder maple leaf litter and fresh Romaine lettuce) to groups of 10 snails. Dietary preference was determined by collecting and examining fecal matter. Our results indicate that Oreohelix preferred leaf litter over fresh greens. This study provides an insight into the lesser-known ecology of Oreohelix snails and may aid in future conservation efforts as their habitat continues to be threatened by development.
Bernard, Michael R. and Wilson, Joseph S., "Analysis of Rocky Mountain snail (Oreohelix sp.) dietary preference" (2016). Biology Posters. Paper 31.