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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aej) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, "a regional multi-species recovery plan incorporates this species and is only known from subfossils on Norfolk Island, but may survive on Phillip Island. Therefore the approved conservation advice for this species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and manage key threats (19/12/2008)".
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares 2009 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009u) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Information Sheets What the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) means for Norfolk Islanders (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2004i) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (64) (19/12/2008) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008f) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Scientific name Mathewsoconcha phillipii [81252]
Family Helicarionidae:Pulmonata:Gastropoda:Mollusca:Animalia
Species author Gray, 1834
Infraspecies author  
Reference Gray, J.E. (1834). Characters of new species of land and freshwater shells. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1834: 63-68.
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: Mathewsoconcha phillipii

Common name: Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail

The Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail is a small land snail that is 16 mm in diameter and is 12 mm high. It has a fawn to whitish coloured shell with a narrow white peripheral band and a short, depressed spire (Hyman 2005).

The Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail is only known from subfossils on Norfolk Island, but may survive on Phillip Island (TSSC 2008aej).

The Territory of Norfolk Island is 1700 km north-east of Sydney in the South Pacific Ocean. The Territory includes Norfolk Island, which is approximately 35 km², as well as Nepean and Phillip Islands, which are smaller, uninhabited islands to the south of Norfolk Island (DEH 2000). The islands are volcanic in origin, formed by masses of basalt which arose from the ocean floor, a process which began about 3 million years ago and extended over 700 000 years. Over time, the islands have been colonised by plants and animals (DEH 2000). It is recognised that Norfolk Island has a high diversity of land snails relative to other similar sized islands (Iredale 1944).

The only official non-fossil records of the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail are two specimens collected from Phillip Island before 1908. Given that there has been a limited amount of survey effort on Phillip Island since this time, there is a possibility that the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail is extinct. However, two snail specimens (non living) collected from Phillip Island in 1997 have been identified as likely to be the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail by a relevant expert, though these specimens have not been formally identified or lodged in a museum. There has been insufficient survey work undertaken on Phillip Island to establish if the species persists there, or if it is extinct (TSSC 2008aeo).

It is likely that the Phillip Island Helicarionid Snail has undergone a decline in numbers on Phillip Island following the virtual destruction of vegetation by the grazing of pigs (Sus scrofa), goats (Capra hircus) and rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) that have now been removed. Phillip Island suffered severe soil erosion and continues to be a highly degraded habitat (TSSC 2008aeo).

The Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail is common in fossil records compared to the number of specimens collected in recent times, which suggests that the species has undergone a reduction in numbers. This is likely to be due to habitat clearance following European settlement of Norfolk Island and habitat degradation caused by the introduction of several invasive species of plants and animals, including rats to Norfolk Island and pigs, goats and rabbits to Phillip Island (TSSC 2008aeo).

Norfolk Island has been intermittently occupied by various settlers who have dramatically altered the environment, predominantly by land clearing for agriculture and housing. Approximately 80% of the original vegetation has been cleared, and the invasion of remnants by weed species has been extensive. Much of the Norfolk Island landscape has been transformed from a densely vegetated sub-tropical island to a highly modified pastoral landscape characterised by grazed kikuyu pastures bordered by remnant woodland (DEH 2000; 2004i).

Phillip Island lies approximately 7 km south of Norfolk Island and is approximately 4 km². The vegetation on the island has been severely degraded by the grazing of pigs, goats and rabbits released there for food and sport during early colonisation of the islands by Europeans. Pigs and goats were removed in the early 20th century, but rabbits were not removed until 1988 (TSSC 2008aeo).

Little is known on the biology/ecology of this species. The generation length of the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail is not known (TSSC 2008aeo).

The Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail is very similar to Gray's Helicarionid Land Snail (Mathewsoconcha grayi) but differs in having a slightly larger shell, the spire a little shorter and there is a white, narrow peripheral band (Hyman 2005).

The key historical threat to the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail was predation by introduced rats. The Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans) is presumed to have been introduced thousands of years ago by Polynesian visitors to Norfolk Island. The Black Rat (Rattus rattus) was introduced later, possibly around 1943 (DEH 2000). Both species are likely to have caused a decline in the numbers of the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail by direct predation on Norfolk Island. An extensive rat control program has been operating on Norfolk Island since 1992, however the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail has only been recorded on Phillip Island during the last 100 years, so it is unlikely to benefit from this program. Rats do not currently occur on Phillip Island, however, it is possible that they could disperse to Phillip Island via a boat (TSSC 2008aeo).

A further historical threat to the species, with ongoing effects, was the destruction of vegetation on Phillip Island by the grazing of pigs, goats and rabbits. While these animals are no longer present on Phillip Island, the landscape has suffered severe soil erosion and of the few of the plants that survived, many are introduced weeds. Phillip Island continues to be a highly degraded habitat, though programs to control weeds, re-establish native vegetation and protect rare plants and animals have been undertaken by Parks Australia since 1978. This degradation and associated soil erosion is likely to have drastically altered the habitat available to the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail, and caused a decline in the species' numbers (TSSC 2008aeo).

The species' available habitat is also likely to be declining in quality due to the presence of weed species on Norfolk Island. Over 200 species of introduced vascular plants have been recorded on Norfolk Island, including Lantana (Lantana camara), 'William Taylor' weed (Ageratina riparia) and Wild Tobacco (Solanum mauritianum) (Hyman 2005). Parks Australia is currently implementing a weed control program involving the broad scale treatment and rehabilitation of weed infested areas, however it is likely that the habitat of the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail remains threatened, as weed control is not undertaken across the entire former range of the species (TSSC 2008aeo).

Land clearance is likely to have drastically altered habitat available to the Phillip Island Helicarionid Land Snail, and caused a decline in the species' numbers. Land clearance since European settlement has been extensive on Norfolk Island, with approximately 80% of the original vegetation having been cleared for agriculture and housing (DEH 2004i).

Recovery actions

The Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (TSSC 2008aej) outlines recovery actions including:

  • Survey to identify locations of current populations.
  • Monitor populations in existing locations and assess the efficiency of management.
  • Increase quarantine and surveillance measures in relation to potential introduced threats.
  • Establish captive breeding programs that could potentially lead to the establishment of additional populations of the species in the wild.
  • Identify known sites of high conservation priority.
  • Protect areas of native vegetation, that contain populations of the species or which could support populations in the future.
  • Revegetate key areas.
  • Raise awareness of the species within the local community.

Documents that may assist in the recovery of Phillip Island's Helicarionid Land Snail include the Norfolk Island Recovery Plan (in preparation), the Draft threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares (DEWR 2008) and the Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (TSSC 2008aej).

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 Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Ageratina riparia (Mistflower, Mist Flower, Creeping Croftonweed, River Eupatorium, Spreading Mistflower) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Lantana camara (Lantana, Common Lantana, Kamara Lantana, Large-leaf Lantana, Pink Flowered Lantana, Red Flowered Lantana, Red-Flowered Sage, White Sage, Wild Sage) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Solanum mauritianum (Wild Tobacco Tree, Wild Tobacco Bush, Tobacco Tree) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus exulans (Pacific Rat, Polynesian Rat) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Gallus gallus (Red Junglefowl, Domestic Fowl) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Capra hircus (Goat) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeo) [Listing Advice].

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2000). Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Plans of Management. Canberra, ACT: DEH.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2004i). What the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) means for Norfolk Islanders. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/publications/norfolk-island/pubs/norfolk-island.pdf.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009u). Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares 2009. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/exotic-rodents.html.

Hyman, I. (2005). Taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary trends in Helicarionida (Mollusca, Pulmonata). Page(s) 1-583. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Sydney.

Iredale, T. (1944). The Land Mollusca of Lord Howe Island. Australian Zoologist. 10(3):299-330.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008aej). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81252-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008aeo). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha phillipii. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81252-listing-advice.pdf.

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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). Mathewsoconcha phillipii in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:27:59 +1000.