The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Elimia livescens
Elimia livescens
(liver elimia)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Elimia livescens

Common name: liver elimia

Synonyms and Other Names: Goniobasis livescens (Menke, 1830), Goniobasis virginica (Say, 1817)

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Elimia livescens is a small snail with a conical shell that ranges widely in color (light to dark black/brown to green/yellow). Shell shape can also vary in the number of whorls (7-9), spire length, thickness, and width concurrent with development due to allometry and/or environment (Dazo 1965; Owen et al. 2013).  The operculum is ovate and reddish-brown in color, with three whorls and a compact basal nucleus (Strong 2005). The foot is broad and rounded with a ciliated egg grove. Elimia livescens has a well-developed hypobranchial gland distinguished by deep, transverse folds (Strong 2005).

Size: Adult length ranges from 15 to 21 mm (Cazenave and Zanatta 2016). Eggs average 280 ┬Ám in diameter (Dazo 1965).

Native Range: From the St. Lawrence River drainage from the Great Lakes to Lake Champlain. Tributaries of the Ohio River, Wabash River and Scioto River and west to the Illinois River. DeVanna et al. (2011) listed Elimia livescens as native in the Great Lakes. However, other sources first reported it in the Great Lakes in the 1800s — discovered in Lake Superior (Say 1821), Lake Michigan (Cooper 1834), Lake Erie (Menke 1830), Lake Huron (Tyron 1865), and Lake Ontario (Tyron 1865) (Burch and Jung 1988).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Lower Hudson River drainage.

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Elimia livescens are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
MI183418341Lake Michigan
MN182118211Lake Superior
NY186520003Lake Ontario; Lower Hudson; Oneida
PA183018301Lake Erie

Table last updated 4/16/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Elimia livescens is a small freshwater snail that inhabits rocky, sandy, and muddy substrate in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Tolerant of brackish water but does not tolerate pollution or anoxic conditions. Mortality occurs in temperatures above 32°C (Nash 1954). Chemical habitat requirements are not reported for this species specifically, but most freshwater gastropods require calcium concentrations above 5 mg/l (Lodge et al. 1987). Furthermore, most freshwater snails are not found in waters below a pH of 5 (Jokinen 1983). Shell shape and thickness is correlated to environmental conditions: snails in higher currents exhibit thicker, shorter, and more globular shells to promote adhesion, whereas those in lower currents have thinner, taller, and elongated shells to facilitate navigation (Anderson 2010; Dunitahn et al. 2012; Cazenave and Zanatta 2016).

Elimia livescens mature sexually after one year, and typically live up to five. Sexes are separate and mate in fall and spring. Oviposition begins in spring, peaking in April and May and ending in early August. Between one and four eggs are laid per day and are covered in a thin layer of soil (Dazo 1965). Egg production is positively related with body length (Krist 2001). Hatch occurs approximately two weeks after deposition (Dazo 1965).

This species grazes on periphyton (green algae and diatoms) using its radula (Dazo 1965; Sallenave et al. 1994). Elimia livescens is eaten by fish, ducks, and crayfish. Its shell shape and thickness can be influenced by the presence of crayfish, with more defensive shell orientations in heavily predated populations (Krist 2002).

Means of Introduction: Cryptogenic in the Great Lakes. Migrated via the Erie Canal to the Hudson River where it is considered invasive (Burch and Jung 1988).

Status: Unknown in the lower Hudson River.

Great Lakes:
Widespread cryptogenic. Reproducing and overwintering at self-sustaining levels have been recorded in all 5 of the Great Lakes.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Several sources have mis-attributed the taxonomic description of Lymnaea virginica by Say (1817) as Elimia virginica instead of the correct Elimia livescens. Gmelin (1791) is the original author of Elimia virginica (Burch 1989).

References: (click for full references)

Anderson, K.L. 2010. The effect of current and habitat on the shell morphology of the freshwater snail, Elimia livescens, in northern Michigan streams. University of Michigan Biological Station.

Burch, J.B. 1989. North American Freshwater Snails. Walkerana 2(6):1-82.

Burch, J.B., and Y. Jung. 1988. A review of the classification, distribution and habitats of the freshwater gastropods of the North American Great Lakes in Walkerana. Volume 2. Society for Experimental and Descriptive Malacology. Ann Arbor, MI.

Cazenave, K.R., and D.T. Zanatta. 2016. Environmental drivers of shell shape in a freshwater gastropod from small and large lakes. Freshwater Science 35(3):948-957.

Cooper, W. 1834. in Henry R. Schoolcraft, ed. Narrative of an expedition through the upper Mississippi to Itasca lake, the actual source of this river; embracing an exploratory trip through the St. Croix and Burntwood (or Broule) rivers: in 1832. Harper. New York.

Dazo, B.C. 1965. The morphology and natural history of Pleurocera acuta and Goniobasis livescens (Gastropoda: Cerithiacea: Plueroceridae). Malacologia 3(1):1-80.

DeVanna, K.M., B.L. Bodamer, C.G. Wellington, E. Hammer, C.M. Mayer, and J.M. Bossenbroek. 2011. An alternative hypothesis to invasional meltdown in the Laurentian Great Lakes region: General facilitation by Dreissena. Journal of Great Lakes Research 37(4):632-641.

Dunithan, A., S. Jacquemin, and M. Pyron. 2012. Morphology of Elimia livescens (Mollusca: Pleuroceridae) in Indiana, U.S.A. covaries with environmental variation. American Malacological Bulletin 30:1-7. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Pyron/publication/259975826_Morphology_of_Elimia_livescens_Mollusca_Pleuroceridae_in_Indiana_USA_Covaries_with_Environmental_Variation/links/0deec52ed253081a81000000/Morphology-of-Elimia-livescens-Mollusca-Pleuroc.

Jokinen, E.H. 1983. The freshwater snails of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural History Survey, Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT.

Kanter, M., J. Mott, N. Ohashi, B. Fried, S. Reed, Y.C. Lin, Y. Rikihisa. 2000. Analysis of 16S rRNA and 51-Kilodalton antigen gene and transmission in mice of Ehrlichia risticii in virgulate trematodes from Elimia livescens snails in Ohio. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 38(9):3349.

Krist, A.C. 2001. Variation in fecundity among populations of snails is predicted by prevalence of castrating parasites. Evolutionary Ecology Research 3(2):191-197.

Krist, A.C. 2002. Crayfish induce a defensive shell shape in a freshwater snail. Invertebrate Biology 121(3):235-242. www.jstor.org/stable/3227136.

Levri, E.P., E.D. Colledge, R.H. Bilka, and B.J. Smith. 2012. The distribution of the invasive New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in streams in the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie watersheds. BioInvasions Records 1(3):215-219. http://www.reabic.net/journals/bir/2012/3/BIR_2012_3_Levri_etal.pdf.

Menke, K.T. 1830. Synopsis methodica molluscorum generum omnium et specierum earum, quae in Museo Menkeano adservantur : cum synonymia critica et novarum specierum diagnosibus. Sumtibus auctoris, typis Henrici Gelpke.

Nash, C.B. 1954. Heat death temperatures and exposure times of Goniobasis livescens. American Association for the Advancement of Science 119(3100):773-774.

Owen, D.A.S., A. Settineri, S.J. Jacquemin, and M. Pyron. 2013. On the contribution of allometry to morphological variation in a freshwater gastropod Elimia livescens. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 121(2):163-166.

Sallenave, R.M., K.E. Day, and D.P. Kreutzweiser. 1994. The role of grazers and shredders in the retention and downstream transport of a Pcb in lotic environments. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 13(11):1843-1847.

Say, T. 1821. Descriptions of univalve shells of the United States. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2(1):149-179.

Strong, E.E. 2005. A morphological reanalysis of Pleurocera acuta Rafinesque, 1831, and Elimia livescens (Menke, 1830) (Gastropoda: Cerithioidea: Pleurocerdidae). The Nautilus 119(4):119-132. https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/7388/IZ_EStrong_2005.pdf.

Tyron, G.W. 1865. Monograph of the family Stepomaitdae. American Journal of Conchology 1(4):299-341.

Author: Benson, A.J., and A. Bartos

Revision Date: 2/25/2021

Peer Review Date: 2/25/2021

Citation Information:
Benson, A.J., and A. Bartos, 2024, Elimia livescens: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=2233, Revision Date: 2/25/2021, Peer Review Date: 2/25/2021, Access Date: 4/16/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/16/2024].

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