Plants and Animals

Hawaiia alachuana Southeastern gem

Key Characteristics

Snails in the Hawaiia genus are characterized by glossy, yellowish shells of less than 3 mm in diameter, wider than they are tall, with 4 whorls and a flattened spire. The body is large in comparison to the shell, with long, slender eye peduncles and short tentacles.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5Q
State Rank: SNR - Not ranked


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


The Southeastern gem is found among the leaf litter of decidous forests in areas of alkaline soil (Hubricht 1985).

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

As the Southeastern gem, along with many land snail species, is associated with alkaline soils (Hubricht 1985), increased acid rain may have negative impacts (Hotopp 2002).  Maintaining unfragmented forest areas where canopy, ground cover, and thick leaf litter remain intact will benefit this species. Herbicide/insecticide spraying of locations occupied by vulnerable snail species should be avoided, as chemicals and heavy metals are bioaccumulated by snails (Berger and Dallinger 1993, Regoli et al. 2006). High exposure to heavy metals in the environment has been found to alter snail feeding habits and prevent reproduction (Notten et al. 2006).

Active Period

Breeding from first week of May to first week of June

Survey Methods

As visual detection of this species is difficult, specimens are collected by litter sampling in suitable habitat. Samples are thoroughly heat-dried, soaked in water for a number of hours to separate the various components, and finally passed through a series of sieves. The shells are then able to be hand-picked from the remaining sample material (Nekola 2003).

Litter sampling

Survey Period: From first week of April to first week of October

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Nekola, J.C. 2003. Large-scale terrestrial gastropod community composition patterns in the Great Lakes region of North America. Diversity and Distributions 9:55-71.

Technical References

  • Baker, F.C. 1939. Fieldbook of Illinois Land Snails. Illinois Natural History Survey Manual 2, Urbana, Illinois. 166pp.
  • Hottop, K.P. 2002. Land snails and soil calcium in central Appalachian forest. Southeastern Naturalist 1(1):27-44.
  • Hubricht, L. 1985. The Distributions of Native Land Mollusks of the Eastern US. Field Museum of Natural History. Fieldiana: Zoology, No. 24.