A Review of the Conservation Status of Selected Australian Non-Marine Invertebrates

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Geoffrey M. Clark and Fiona Spier, 2003

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About the plan

This Review represents the first attempt to objectively assess the conservation status of a selected suite of Australian non-marine invertebrates.

Australia is home to over 300,000 species of non-marine invertebrates of which over 80% are endemic; the majority of which are not formally described. Any attempt to provide a detailed and comprehensive overview of the conservation status of such a large and diverse group is obviously impractical.

The approach we have taken is to select a suite of 25 species that are representative of the diversity of our invertebrate fauna, their geographic distribution, different habitat requirements and associations and potential threats. These 25 species should not be viewed as priority taxa in any sense.

For each selected species we provide information on:

  1. General taxonomic status of the species, including an illustration
  2. Species survival status. This includes information of current listing under State or Commonwealth legislation, or on the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Hilton-Taylor 2000). Also included is the IUCN categorisation determined by application of the Ramas RedList software program (Akçakaya and Ferson 1999).
  3. Species distribution - a map of current distribution is provided at the end of each synopsis overlaid with Conservation and Protected Areas shown in green.
  4. Habitat details
  5. Biological overview
  6. Significance - details of the biological, ecological, and scientific significance of the species which have contributed to its inclusion in the plan
  7. Threats
  8. Conservation objectives
  9. Conservation actions already initiated for the taxon
  10. Conservation actions required for long-term conservation of the species. This section is subdivided into research and management needs.
  11. A list of relevant experts who provided information

Each of the selected species has been objectively assessed against the 1994 IUCN Threatened Species Criteria using the software package RAMAS RedList®. As anticipated the majority of taxa were categorised as Critically Endangered with the remaining as Data Deficient. This latter category highlights many of the problems associated with assessment of invertebrate species, namely the lack of detailed and comprehensive biological, ecological and distribution data.

Effective invertebrate conservation cannot rely on the conventional single species approach adopted for the conservation of our vertebrates and plants. The focus needs to change to a more community and landscape scale approach with a primary emphasis on habitat conservation and threat abatement. However, for some faunal elements a single species emphasis may still have merit.

The aims of this Review are twofold. The first is to highlight that invertebrates are amenable to conventional assessment of their conservation status. Although such assessment might be more difficult than for better-known groups, such as vertebrates, there is nothing intrinsically different about them to prevent objective assessment. The second and perhaps more important aim is to draw attention to the conservation needs of the largest and most diverse component of Australia's biota. There is a general increase in awareness of the uniqueness and importance of Australia's invertebrates. This review stresses that this fauna is just as worthy of conservation as our koalas, parrots and Wollemi Pine.

See also