Petalura litorea 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Odonata Petaluridae

Scientific Name: Petalura litorea Theischinger, 1999
Common Name(s):
English Coastal Petaltail
Taxonomic Source(s): Schorr, M. and Paulson, D. 2017. World Odonata List. Revision 22 February 2017. Tacoma, Washington, USA Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: The species was recognized and described by Theischinger (1999), from material attributed to Petalura gigantea.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-05-16
Assessor(s): Dow, R.A.
Reviewer(s): Theischinger, G. & Endersby, I.

Petalura litorea apparently is confined to coastal or near coastal habitats in the north-east of New South Wales and the south-east of Queensland, with few populations represented in national parks. Definite threats exist at many locations, and although data to gauge the severity of the impacts due to these threats is lacking, they must be causing at least some decline in quality and area of suitable habitat. Its area of occupancy (AOO) is believed to be less than 2,000 km² and there is at least an inferred decline in area and quality of habitat. Therefore, although there are >10 locations currently known for this species, it nearly meets criterion B2. Thus, it is assessed as Near Threatened. When more data become available a reassessment should be made and may well result in a change to a higher threat category.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Petalura litorea is endemic to Australia, where it is only known from coastal and near coastal areas in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales. The assessor has seen records from about 20 individual locations, including two in New South Wales that are listed at, most of which are from an area extending from the Queensland/New South Wales as far north  as Fraser Island, with an isolated record further north near Byefield National Park, and four isolated locations further south in New South Wales, at least one of which is in Yuraygir National Park. The species is also present in Moreton Island National Park in Queensland and might be present in Burleigh Head National Park, but this is based on old records from Burleigh Heads and it is not clear if they are from sites within the national park. A high proportion of sites and individual records are from North Stradbroke Island in Queensland. Bush et al. (2014: Table S2) give an estimate of the current extent of suitable habitat of this species of 6,620 km². With only about 20 locations known and fairly specialised habitat requirements its AOO is likely to be less than 2,000 km².

Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales, Queensland)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:80-1999
Number of Locations:20
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are insufficient data to make definitive statements about population sizes and health for this species. However it can be reasonably assumed to have suffered a decline in overall population due to loss of its coastal habitats to, for instance, development, agriculture and sand mining; this decline is likely to be ongoing.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The species “inhabits boggy seepages and swamps at low altitude” (Theischinger and Endersby 2009). “Most petalurid larvae utilise a semi-terrestrial burrowing habit occupying permanent long chambered burrows, built under swamps” (Theischinger and Endersby 2009).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

This species is listed as Endangered in New South Wales, and a long list of threats is given at “Damage to habitat by feral pigs and domestic stock. Application of herbicides or pesticides in or adjacent to habitat. Decreasing water quality of swamps through pollution, eutrophication and sedimentation. Weed invasion of wetland sites. Clearing and degradation of foraging and breeding habitat. Loss or modification of natural swamps, wetlands and sedgelands through regulation of river flows, water harvesting schemes and changes in surface water flows and groundwater levels. Modification of swamps due to climate change.” However there are no supporting data showing cases where these threats (which surely apply to populations in Queensland as well) have actually affected the species; undoubtedly some or all do have a negative impact on the species, but it is very difficult to judge the severity of these impacts without more data. Additionally, populations on North Stradbroke Island are threatened by the ongoing sand mining operations there.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

More data on threats to this species, current population sizes and health, and on its distribution are needed. Management plans for declining populations outside of national parks may be needed. It is currently listed as Endangered under Schedule 1 Part 1 of the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, a long list of threats and activities to assist this species can be found at (see under threats).

Citation: Dow, R.A. 2017. Petalura litorea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T163555A87528568. . Downloaded on 22 September 2017.
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