Research Report: Going on a Snail Hunt

Russian Scientists College Biological Samples
Olga Aksenova, PhD, and Aleksandr Kondakov, PhD, collect snail samples in a wetland area of the park. They are both lead researchers at the Laboratory Molecular Ecology and Phylogenetics of the Northern (Arctic) Federal University.

NPS Photo - E. Oberg
Approved under Yellowstone Research Permit Number YELL-2017-SCI-8014

Research Permit Number: YELL-2017-SCI-8014
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ivan Bolotov
Affiliation: Northern (Arctic) Federal University

Yellowstone National Park recently hosted a team of five researchers from Russia who are exploring the role of the Bering Land Bridge faunal exchange in the evolution and dispersal of animals. For this work, they focus on tiny and often overlooked animals in the park: pond snails and pea clams.

The project has a particular interest in the role that hydrothermal water might have played as possible cryptic refugia for species crossing the Bering Land Bridge. With no shortage of hydrothermal water in Yellowstone, the team is hunting for snails along hot water–cold water transition zones. Snails and pea clams collected from Yellowstone will undergo molecular analyses performed by using several DNA markers. This research activity is part of a larger project that includes locations in Canada, Alaska, and Russia and also examines fish and insects.

Under the provisions of their Yellowstone National Park research permit, this group was required to follow decontamination protocols for their waders and field collection gear to prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). To learn more about efforts to prevent the spread of AIS, visit

- Ann E. Carlson
A Russian scientist works in the field
Olga Aksenova, PhD

NPS Photo - E. Oberg
Approved under Yellowstone Research Permit Number YELL-2017-SCI-8014

Note: This group operates under an official research permit, issued by Yellowstone National Park. It is the policy of the National Park Service to guarantee that management of parks is enhanced by the highest quality scientific information. Understanding our natural and cultural resources is vital to improving park management and expanding scientific knowledge. Specifc research activities must be approved in advance through the Yellowstone Research Permit Office. For more information visit the research permitting policy page.

Last updated: August 24, 2017