Niveoscincus palfreymani 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Scincidae

Scientific Name: Niveoscincus palfreymani (Rawlinson, 1974)
Common Name(s):
English Pedra Branca Cool-skink, Pedra Branca Skink, Red-throated Skink

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D1+2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-06-12
Assessor(s): Chapple, D.C, Michael, D., Robertson, P., Clemann, N. & Wapstra, E.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Contributor(s): Harris, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Chanson, J.S.
Listed as Vulnerable because the most recent population estimate is of between 300-500 individuals (with the caveat that this is associated with a degree of uncertainty and is itself 20 years old), and it is restricted to only one island with an area of 1.4 ha. There are numerous plausible threats such as the introduction of rats that could cause the species to become Critically Endangered or Extinct in a very short period of time. Climate change will most likely also affect this species.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found only on Pedra Branca Rock, a rocky islet 60 m above sea level off the southern coast of Tasmania (Cogger 2014). The island has an area of 1.4 ha (Wilson and Swan 2013).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Tasmania)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:0.025
Number of Locations:1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Two population estimates derived from mark-recapture data reported an overall population size of 560-600 individuals (with no distinction between adults and juveniles) in 1985, and of 250 in 1996 (TSSC 2014), suggesting a decline of more than 50% over 10 years. There is no more recent data available (TSSC 2014). The population is divided into four discrete colonies, however this is a very small island and it is not clear that these are genuinely isolated (E. Wapstra pers. comm. 2017). Based on the 1997 figures, the largest of these contained 132 individuals over an area of 400 m2. The "Main Colony" contained as few as 41 individuals in an area of 1,500 m2 (TSSC 2014), figures which suggest that it may not be viable.  TSSC (2014) suggested that the species may become extinct within as few as 10 years without active management. These population figures and evidence of apparent decline should nonetheless be treated with caution (E. Wapstra pers. comm. 2017), and the most recent data is 20 years old.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:300-500
No. of subpopulations:1
All individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species lives under rocks and in crevices. The island is devoid of vegetation other than low samphire (Cogger 2014). This species is viviparous (Wilson and Swan 2013).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no use or trade of this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Human disturbance or the introduction of a species such as rats is a major threat for the future, as even a single instance of a fisherman or other visitor inadvertently releasing a pest species on the island could rapidly drive this species to extinction (E. Wapstra pers. comm. 2017). The lizards are reliant on the sea bird populations so may be affected by changes in their population, although conversely TSSC 2014 proposed that predation on the lizards by seabirds may itself be a threat despite the long period of co-existence between the two species. Extreme weather events and climate change are also major threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth EPBC Act. Its range is included within the Southwest National Park, and no one is allowed access to the island. There is currently no action plan for this species. Although financial support has been provided for active monitoring (TSSC 2014) this is not thought to have gone ahead due to difficulties in conducting surveys on the island (E. Wapstra pers. comm. 2017).

Citation: Chapple, D.C, Michael, D., Robertson, P., Clemann, N. & Wapstra, E. 2017. Niveoscincus palfreymani. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T14811A101753182. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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