Calcium is an essential requirement for the successful growth and development of gastropod molluscs. Data for British freshwater gastropods were used to examine the relationship between environmental calcium requirements and British and European range sizes. At both spatial scales calciphile species, which require a high level of environmental calcium, had significantly smaller range sizes than species able to exploit a wide range of environmental calcium levels. However, at least in Britain, range size may also be influenced by the availability of suitable habitat. British and European range sizes were significantly correlated. This study provides evidence for niche-based explanations of range size variation, and suggests that both niche breadth and niche availability are important in determining range size.