Pupilla muscorum is a widespread species that occurs in almost all countries of the European Union. Its exact distribution is unknown, because parts of the literature records refer to P. pratenis rather than to P. muscorum. In Ireland, P. muscorum is in decline in most parts of its Irish range. It is now local and rare on northern coasts where it was formerly common. It has almost vanished from the southern part of the central limestone plain probably due to the 'improvement' of pastures for agriculture (Byrne et al. 2009).
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) This species inhabits nearly the entire range of the genus and is known throughout the northern hemisphere in Europe, northernmost Africa, northern Asia, and North America. Although Pilsbry (1948) and Hubricht (1985) report this as a native North American species, native populations exist in subalpine forests in the Rockies and tundra habitats as far south as Churchill, Manitoba and the northern shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec, and are commonly present as full-glacial fossils; however, these populations differ in shell features from the disturbance tolerant form common to anthropogenic habitats from the mid-Atlantic states to Iowa and Minnesota (Nekola, 2008). The latter populations likely represent a recently escaped European population.
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Comments: It occurs in cold, calcareous turf and gravel banks (Nekola, 2009). East-central North American populations (Maine and Tennessee west to eastern Iowa) generally occur in disturbed anthropogenic habitats such as road verges, vacant lots, abandoned quarries, old fields, and concrete culverts (Hubricht, 1985) although they may also occasionally inhabit less disturbed carbonate cliff, glade, and grassland sites. To the north (Newfoundland, the north shore of the St. Lawrence to northwestern Minnesota and the southern shore of Hudsons Bay) populations occur on bare soil, under stones, on turf, and in thin leaf litter accumulations on sandy or rocky shorelines and in tundra (Nekola and Coles, 2010).
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Pupilla muscorum
There are 8 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pupilla muscorum
Public Records: 8
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species inhabits nearly the entire range of the genus and is known throughout the northern hemisphere in Europe, northernmost Africa, northern Asia, and North America. Although Pilsbry (1948) and Hubricht (1985) report this as a native North American species, native populations exist in subalpine forests in the Rockies and tundra habitats as far south as Churchill, Manitoba and the northern shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec, and are commonly present as full-glacial fossils; however, these populations differ in shell features from the disturbance tolerant form common to anthropogenic habitats from the mid-Atlantic states to Iowa and Minnesota (Nekola, 2008). The latter populations likely represent a recently escaped European population.
Comments: Global warming and sea level rise are threats (Nekola, 2009).
The shell is usually light brown, varies from reddish brown to horny grey, weakly striated or almost smooth, 5-6.5 weakly convex whorls, suture not very deep, aperture usually with well-developed lip, cervical callus strongly developed, like a dam, parietal tooth usually present, palatal tooth sometimes too.
The height of the shell is 3.0-4.0 mm. The width of the shell is 1.65-1.75 mm (shell diameter does not vary much).
This species of land snail occurs in the Northern Hemisphere including almost all of Europe. It is recorded as present in countries and islands including:
- Great Britain. It is threatened by disturbance due to intensification of land use of old calcareous grasslands in Britain.
- lower concern in Austria. Vulnerable in Vorarlberg.
- lower concern in Germany, decreasing (4R) in Bavaria.
- Ukraine including Crimea 
- Michigan, USA 
- Vermont, USA 
Pupilla muscorum lives in dry meadows, sand dunes, in open and sunny habitats. Calciphile. In Portugal it is found under stones, dead leaves and in mosses. In Britain it is frequent in sheep-grazed calcareous grasslands. In the Alps in up to 2400 m, in Bulgaria 1200 m.
This article incorporates public domain text from the reference.
- Linnaeus C. (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. pp. [1-4], 1-824. Holmiae. (Salvius).
- von Proschwitz T., Schander C. , Jueg U. & Thorkildsen S. (2009). "Morphology, ecology and DNA-barcoding distinguish Pupilla pratensis (Clessin, 1871) from Pupilla muscorum (Linnaeus, 1758) (Pulmonata: Pupillidae)". Journal of Molluscan Studies 75(4): 315-322. doi:10.1093/mollus/eyp038.
- "Species summary for Pupilla muscorum". AnimalBase. Last modified 30-01-2010, accessed 30 July 2010.
- Balashov I. & Gural-Sverlova N. 2012. An annotated checklist of the terrestrial molluscs of Ukraine. Journal of Conchology. 41 (1): 91-109.
- Pokryszko B. M., Auffenberg K., Hlaváč J. Č. & Naggs F. (2009). "Pupilloidea of Pakistan (Gastropoda: Pulmonata): Truncatellininae, Vertigininae, Gastrocoptinae, Pupillinae (In Part)". Annales Zoologici 59(4): 423-458. doi:10.3161/000345409X484847.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Recent mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses (Nekola et al., 2009; Von Proschwitz et al., 2009) indicate that throughout its Holarctic range this name has been applied to a species complex. Most populations in east-central North America (referable to P. muscorum) represent apparent European introductions, with Iowa roadside verge material being closest, for instance, to Swedish haplotypes. However, northern Plains populations represent an undescribed species distantly allied to Pupilla hebes and Pupilla pratensis. Given the morphologic variability noted between northern Plains, southern Plains, and arctic populations, the presence of more than one native species also appears likely (Nekola and Coles, 2010). The southern Plains form, limited to arid pinon-juniper forests, has been referred to as Pupilla muscorum xerobia (Pilsbry, 1948). Metcalf and Smartt (1997) suggest that this taxon may be worthy of species status given its greatly thickened apertural lip, uniformly small size and height/width ratio, and divergent habitat and range. The native arctic populations differ from P. hebes only by the weak possession of a partial callus on the uppermost margin of the palatal wall, and appear quite similar to Pupilla pratensis. Additional sequence analysis will be required to make definitive taxonomic statements regarding this group not only in North America but also in Eurasia (Nekola and Coles, 2010).