Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010ak) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010y) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the subspecies provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (13/07/2010).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (98) (13/07/2010) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010h) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014rx) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list)
Scientific name Antipodia chaostola leucophaea [77672]
Family Hesperiidae:Lepidoptera:Insecta:Arthropoda:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author (Couchman, 1946)
Reference http://www.fpa.tas.gov.au/fileadmin/user_upload/PDFs/Zoology_Ecology/tfm_chaostola_skipper.pdf
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Antipodia chaostola leucophaea

Common name: Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper

Other common names: Heath-sand Skipper

Conventionally accepted as Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (AFD 2008a). Two other Antipodia chaostola subspecies occur on mainland Australia: A. c. chaostola which is restricted to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, where it occurs on sandstone escarpment at altitudes between 100–400 m above sea level; and A. c. chares which is known from a few areas in southern Victoria (Braby 2000).

The Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is a butterfly with stout body, brown wings with white to pale yellow spots on the forewings and a suffused yellow patch on each hindwing. The males have a black patch on each forewing. Underneath, the wings are brownish to black with a grey wing tip, a pale indistinct yellow triangle extending from the base to halfway along the costa (the thickened fore edge of the wing), and with several white spots, that may be indistinct. The underneath surface of the hindwing are grey with a number of indistinct outlined grey spots. Wingspan ranges from 32 mm (male) to 35 mm (female) (Braby 2000).

The Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is a member of the 'Skipper' butterfly group that are characterised by their broad head, antennae that are widely spread apart, brown and yellow body colouring and erratic, rapid flight (Tas. TSS 2008b).

The caterpillar of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is yellowish with a red prothorax (the first segment of the thorax of an insect, which bears the first pair of walking legs), and a dark dorsal line, and a dark brown head with two pale bands that are hairy. Caterpillars grow to approximately 3 cm in length (Herbison-Evans & Crossley 2005; Mitchell 2009).

The Tasmania Chaostola Skipper is endemic to Tasmania and is known from five "colonies" where larvae have been recorded (Tas. TSS 2008b). The butterfly occurs in five disjunct locations in the east and south-east of the State mainly in near-coastal lowlands (TSS 2006e). These locations are separated by large areas of unsuitable habitat due to agriculture and urban development (FPA Tas. 2002a). Distances between locations are presumed greater than the dispersal capability of the subspecies.

The following table lists known populations (Tas. TSS 2008b):

Population number Location Year last observed Comments
1 Hop Hole Bottom State Forest 1992  
2 The Hazards, Freycinet Peninsula National Park 2003 2 larvae found per 10 m2
3 Little Swanport, private land reserve 2002 <5 ha, 1 larvae found per 10 m2
4 Sheppards Hil (Coningham) Nature Recreation Area 1992  
5 Mt Nelson, Hobart 1992  
6 Kingston, private land 2011 North Barker (2011)
7 Knocklofty, Hobart 1950s  
8 Bicheno 1945  
9 Huonville 1899 Probably extinct
10 Snug River NA  

The extent of occurrence is estimated to be 1100 km2 (Tas. DPIPWE 2009).

Due to ongoing threats, the abundance of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper continues to decline. Land clearance and habitat degradation from agriculture and urbanisation, has reduced the distribution and abundance of Thatch Sawsedge (Gahnia radula) and Slender Sawsedge (G. microstachya), which are food plants of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper (Bryant & Jackson 1999b).

Neyland and Bell (2000) surveyed for the butterfly for 26 field days, finding only one specimen in a previously recorded locality (Mesibov et al. 2002). Dedicated surveys have occurred in the Little Swanport area which subsequently led to private land being protected through a conservation covenant (Tas. TSS 2008b).

There are no estimates of population numbers, but the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is said to be localised and uncommon (McQuillan 1994).

The Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper occurs in Freycinet National Park and Coningham Nature Recreation Area (Tas. TSS 2008b).

Larvae live and feed in looped leaves of the sedges Thatch Sawsedge and Slender Sawsedge that occur on relatively infertile substrates derived from sandstones, mudstones, siltstones, granites or windblown sands (Tas. TSS 2008b). The sedges are often found as minor understorey species in open forest dominated by one or more of Black Peppermint (Eucalyptus amygdalina), Silvertop Ash (E. sieberi) (north-east only) and Ribbon Gum (E. viminalis), with Messmate (E. obliqua), Swamp Gum (E. ovata), Tasmanian Blue Gum (E. globulus) and Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) sometimes present. Unknown factors, other than food plant availability affect the distribution of the butterfly (FPA Tas. 2002a).

Given the specific requirements for the larval food plants, the butterfly is particularly vulnerable to habitat loss (Tas. DPIW n.d).

The Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper has a two-year life cycle (unlike most butterflies, which develop from egg to caterpillar to adult in one year) with caterpillars occurring for up to 20 months before metamorphosis (Bell 2005; Neyland & Bell 2000; Tas. TSS 2008b). Adults fly for only a few weeks between October and December, during which time they lay their eggs (Neyland & Bell 2000; Tas. TSS 2008b). Adults are very rarely seen (FPA Tas. 2002a).

Caterpillars of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper form conical-shaped shelter tubes made from leaves joined by silk. The opening is at the bottom of the tube, whereas all other known subspecies have the entry at the top of the tube. By day, the caterpillar of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper rests head down in the shelter (Herbison-Evans & Crossley 2005; Mitchell 2009).

Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper caterpillars feed nocturnally on leaves of sedge species, such as Slender Saw-sedge and Thatch Saw Sedge (Herbison-Evans & Crossley 2005; Mitchell 2009).

The Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is sedentary and forms localised colonies close to specialised habitat (sedge plant food sources) (Bell 2005).

The Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is not easily detected, and current surveying techniques may not be efficient (Mesibov et al. 2002).

Land clearance and habitat degradation

Clearing for urbanisation has seen the local extinction of known populations of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, especially in the Hobart area. Habitat degradation has also occurred in remnants of suitable habitat close to urban development. Food source plants for the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper may have been extensively distributed in south-east Tasmania, indicated by their dense presence in roadside and fenceline stands (Tas. TSS 2008b). Much of this area is now subdivided into small residential blocks (Neyland & Bell 2000). The clearance of lowland coastal vegetation comprising sedges continues along the east coast of Tasmania (Tas. TSS 2008b). Other coastal developments (e.g. resorts in the Freycinet/Swansea areas) have probably contributed to the reduction of potential habitat.

Agricultural development has also contributed to a decline in the extent and quality of Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper habitat, with grazing, road works and forestry practices destroying its food plants (Jolly 2006).

Invasion of habitat by weeds, such as Spanish Heath (Erica lusitanica) in the Coningham area, is another habitat degradation threat (Bell 2005).

Inappropriate fire regimes

Mainland Antipodia chaostola subsp. appear more abundant a few years following fire, and the Tasmanian subspecies is also suggested to be a 'fire-successionist' (Sands & New 2002; Tas. TSS 2008b). Without fire events, scrub vegetation appears to displace open vegetation supporting the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper's food plants (Slender Saw-sedge and Thatch Saw Sedge) (Tas. TSS 2008b). Inappropriate fire regimes or  wildfires during the butterfly's life cycle (mid-October to mid-December) may result in the local extinction of populations (Bryant & Jackson 1999b; Jolly 2006).

Minister's reasons for Recovery Plan decision

There should not be a recovery plan for the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper as the approved conservation advice for the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats.

Commonwealth Conservation Advice 

Refer to the Commonwealth Conservation Advice (TSSC 2010ak) for information on research priorities and recovery priority actions to mitigate threats including habitat loss, disturbance and modification, and fire. Raising awareness of the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper is also encouraged in the Advice.

Freycinet region draft Recovery Plan

The Freycinet region draft Recovery Plan (Tas. TSS 2008b) lists recovery actions relevant to the Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, including:

  • provision of technical assistance to the the private land conservation program
  • research into fire ecology
  • surveys and monitoring.

Management documents relevant to the Tasmania Chaostola Skipper include:

  • Draft Joint Management Plan for the Egg Islands Reserve and Egg Islands Conservation Area (Tas. PWS 2009)
  • Draft Greater Freycinet Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan 2008-2012 (Tas. TSS 2008b).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010y) [Listing Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010y) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Commonwealth Listing Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010y) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Habitat modification (clearance and degradation) due to urban development Commonwealth Listing Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010y) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Residential and Commercial Development:Land reclamation and soil dumping due to urban and industrial development Commonwealth Listing Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010y) [Listing Advice].

Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) (2008a). Australian Faunal Directory. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/index.html.

Bell, P. (2005). Chaostola skipper - an endangered Tasmanian butterfly. Forest Practices News. 6(2):18-20. [Online]. Available from: http://www.fpa.tas.gov.au/index.php?id=81.

Braby, M.F. (2000). Butterflies of Australia. Canberra: CSIRO.

Bryant, S. & J. Jackson (1999b). Tasmania's Threatened Fauna Handbook: What, Where and How to Protect Tasmania's Threatened Animals. Hobart, Tasmania: Threatened Species Unit, Parks and Wildlife Service.

Forest Practices Authority Tasmania (FPA Tas.) (2002a). Threatened Fauna Manual for Production Forests in Tasmania. [Online]. Available from: http://www.fpa.tas.gov.au/fileadmin/user_upload/PDFs/Zoology_Ecology/tfm_bornemisszas_stag_beetle.pdf.

Herbison-Evans, D. & S. Crossley (2005). Antipodia chaostola (Meyrick, 1888). [Online]. Available from: http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/hesp/chaost.html.

Jolly, M. (2006). Threatened Butterflies of Tasmania- Synopsis of a Presentation by Dr Phil Bell, (Zoologist, Threatened Species Section, DPIW) at the Annual General Meeting of the Understorey Network 2006. The Understorey Network Newsletter. 36(Spring). [Online]. Available from: http://www.understorey-network.org.au/newsletters.html?article=53.

McQuillan, P. (1994). Butterflies of Tasmania. Hobart: Tasmanian Field Naturalists Club Inc.

Mesibov, R., K.J. Bonham, N. Doran, J. Meggs, S. Munks, H. Otley & K. Richards (2002). Single-species sampling in Tasmania: an inefficient approach to invertebrate conservation?. Invertebrate Systematics. 16:655-663.

Mitchell, I. (2009). Habitat for threatened species - the Butterfly Chaostola Skipper. Running Postman. April. [Online]. Newsletter of the Private Land Conservation Program. Available from: http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/Attachments/DRAR-7RH2RF/$FILE/Running%20Postman%20Newsletter%20April%2009.pdf.

Neyland, M. & P. Bell (2000). Ecology and conservation of the chaostola skipper butterfly (Antipodia chaostola) in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Naturalist. 122:47-54.

North Barker Ecosystem Services (2011). 21 Hawthorn Drive, Proposed Subdivision, Vegetation Survey and Fauna Habitat Assessment.

Sands, D.P.A. & T.R. New (2002). The action plan for Australian butterflies. [Online]. Environment Australia, Canberra. www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/action/butterfly/pubs/butterflies.pdf.

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (Tas. DPIW) (n.d.). Threatened Species: Skipper Butterflies. [Online]. Hobart: Threatened Species Section, Department of Primary Industries and Water. Available from: http://apps.internal.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/intranet/showreference.pl?ref_id=17106.

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE) (2009). Records held in DPIPWE's Threatened fauna files. Hobart, Tas.: DPIPWE.

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (Tas. PWS) (2009). Joint Management Plan for the Egg Islands Reserve and Egg Islands Conservation Area Draft July 2009. [Online]. Available from: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=14811.

Tasmanian Threatened Species Section (Tas. TSS) (2008b). Draft Greater Freycinet Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan 2008-2012. Hobart, Tasmania: Department of Primary Industries and Water.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2010ak). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Antipodia chaostola leucophaea (Tasmanian Chaostola Skipper, Heath-sand Skipper). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/77672-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006e). Draft Greater Freycinet Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan 2006-2010. Hobart, Tasmania: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Antipodia chaostola leucophaea in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:33:37 +1000.