Pachysoma hippocrates


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pachysoma hippocrates
Species Authority: (Macleay, 1821)
Pachysoma hessei Ferreira 1953
Pachysoma macleayi Castelnau 1840
Scarabaeus hippocrates Macleay, 1821
Taxonomic Notes:

The genus Pachysoma Macleay 1821 comprises thirteen flightless species with a combined range extending along the dry to arid coastal region in the southwest of Africa (ScarabNet 2009). The morphological characteristics of P. hippocrates populations show a distinct north / south cline (Harrison et al. 2003) that is also reflected by phylogenetic analysis using the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene (Sole et al. 2005). Although, in the past, northern populations have been separated at specific level under the name, P. hessei Ferreira, this name is currently synonymized with P. hippocrates, and all populations are considered to belong to a single variable coastal species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-07-30
Assessor(s): Davis, A.L.V.
Reviewer(s): Böhm, M. & Gerlach, J.
Contributor(s): Hall, D. & Monteiro, L.

Pachysoma hippocrates has been currently assessed as Least Concern. Although this flightless species has been found only at low population densities within West Coast National Park, this may be representative of population densities throughout its range, which is restricted to an extent of occurrence of between 13,750 and 22,150 km2 and an area of occupancy of probably no more than 3,000 km2. Therefore, by extent of occurrence the species qualifies or very nearly qualifies for the area threshold under criterion B1. The species is experiencing threats and probable declines in range and population size at the southern and northern parts of its range due to habitat conversion by agricultural interests and coastal developments and through habitat degradation from mining interests. Although it does receive some protection from its occurrence within West Coast National Park, surveys are required to ensure that it is sufficiently protected elsewhere to avoid attaining Near Threatened status.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species was described from an inexact locality in the “Cape of Good Hope” and shows a narrow distribution along the dry to arid south-western coastline of South Africa, from Bloubergstrand on the northern outskirts of Cape Town to Port Nolloth in Namaqualand, close to the Namibian border (Harrison et al. 2003). The estimated extent of occurrence of this species lies between 13,750 and 22,150 km2, the latter accounting for sea area, the former subtracting sea area as areas of unsuitable habitat. It is likely to have a more restricted area of occupancy of probably no more than 3,000 km2 based on the area of relatively intact habitat in the centre of this species' range.

South Africa
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


There are few quantitative population data for this species. However, it has been recorded at low population density in West Coast National Park (Davis 1993).

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The species occurs on vegetated soft to firm sand of coastal hummocks and hillocks, the periphery of dune systems, and river beds and banks. It has been recorded in low numbers (0.1 per trap) in West Coast National Park (Davis 1993). At the northern extremes of its range, it is apparently restricted to a narrow coastal strip of cool deep sands, as it was not recorded further inland. This species may show pheromone release behaviour. 

This species is found on coastal sands in the southwest part of the Lowland fynbos and renosterveld ecoregion (AT1202) and the Succulent Karoo ecoregion (AT1322) (ecoregions based on Olson et al. 2001). 

Some environmental characteristics for 78 locality records are as follows: altitude: mean: 85 ± 75 (S.D.), range: 0.3-308 m; annual rainfall: mean: 144 ± 63 (S.D.), range: 63-300 mm; annual temperature: mean: 17.2 ± 1.1 (S.D.), range: 14.5-18.6oC (max. + min. / 2).

Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Specimens of this species are offered for sale on the internet.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Although there are some threats at the extremes of the species range at Bloubergstrand and Port Nolloth much of its intervening range may be relatively intact. In the south, the species may be threatened by habitat modification for urban coastal developments and agriculture whereas in the north it may be threatened by coastal mining for diamonds.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

There are no species-specific conservation actions in place for this species. Although the species may be threatened by coastal developments and farming in the southern part of its range and by coastal mining for diamonds in the northern part of its range, it is protected within the borders of the West Coast National Park and the proposed Groen-Spoeg National Park.

Citation: Davis, A.L.V. 2013. Pachysoma hippocrates. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 August 2014.
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