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Abstract

Described here are 4 species of mountain snails, Oreohelix, isolated on mountains in the central Great Basin of Nevada and Utah since the end of the Pleistocene. Forty-three mountains were searched during an 18-year period, resulting in 24 mountains found with no oreohelicids present. One population, Oreohelix loisae (19 mm to 23 mm in shell diameter), is described here as a new species related to, but geographically isolated from, the species Oreohelix nevadensis (17 mm to 22 mm diameter). Oreohelix loisae is present only in the Goshute Mountains while O. nevadensis is represented in 3 geographically adjacent ranges in the central Great Basin. These 2 species are possibly related to the Oreohelix haydeni group from the northern Wasatch Range. The subspecies Oreohelix strigosa depressa (15 mm to 21 mm diameter) is present on 11 ranges from western Utah west to east central Nevada. This subspecies is closely related to populations found today in the northern Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The smallest species in diameter (8 mm to 14 mm), Oreohelix hemphilli, is centered in the central Great Basin and found on 16 ranges often in sympatry with 1 or 2 of the larger conspecifics. Both qualitative and quantitative information on shell characters and soft anatomy is provided here for these 4 species. Shell characters, soft anatomy, geographical isolation, and statistical analysis suggest that 4 distinct species inhabit the central Great Basin today. Xeric and calciphilic species include O. hemphilli and O. loisae, while O. strigosa and O. nevadensis typically are associated with permanent water and both metamorphic and limestone mountains.

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