Peripatopsis alba 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Onychophora Onychophora Onychophora Peripatopsidae

Scientific Name: Peripatopsis alba Lawrence, 1931
Common Name(s):
English White Cave Velvet Worm

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2003
Date Assessed: 2003-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Hamer, M.
Reviewer(s): Samways, M. & Hamer, M. (Southern African Invertebrate Red List Authority)
This species is known only from two cave systems. The population is known to be small, with extensive searches yielding very few specimens (Sharrat et al. 2000). The cave is used by cavers and this could threaten the habitat through trampling and increased air pollution in the caves (Sharrat et al. 2000). In addition, over-collecting could become a problem. This species is not known to survive for more than 24 hours outside of its natural habitat (Lawrence 1931).

P. alba was listed as Endangered (EN B1+2c) in 1996. It does not, however, fulfill the criteria for B, since there is no evidence for a continuing decline in area of occupancy or occurrence, quality of habitat or populations. There is also no evidence for extreme fluctuations in these. Peripatopsis alba can only be categorised as Vulnerable (VU D2) on the basis of its very restricted habitat and its inability to move away from this. There is a possibility of humans destroying the entire population by a single, short-term activity, or through increased access to the caves.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is only known from the Table Mountain Wynberg and Bats Cave systems in Western Cape, South Africa. Two subpopulations likely to be effectively separated by two isolated cave systems.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Western Cape)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Evidence suggests that population/s are very small. However, there is no real evidence that populations have declined. P. alba has only ever been collected from Wynberg and Bats Cave systems. There is thus no evidence that the area of occurrence or the area of occupancy has changed, or that it will change in the future (if these habitats are adequately protected).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:In Wynberg Cave, the main galley where specimens were collected is about 30 m below the surface. The walls of the cave are constantly damp, the cave is continuously dark, and the only vegetation is small greyish lichen (Lawrence 1931).

Generation time and reproductive trends are likely to be similar to other members of the genus. Gestation is approximately 12-13 months, and only about 20 young are produced by each female in a year. Sexual maturity takes 9-11 months to reach and the life span is about 6-7 years (Manton 1938).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Main threats to the species are over-collection for research purposes or by cavers, atmospheric pollution within the caves from carbides and tobacco smoke, and human disturbance of the species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Permits are required by a national conservation agency to collect fauna. It is suggested that prohibition of access or limited access to caves should be implemented.

Citation: Hamer, M. 2003. Peripatopsis alba. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003: e.T16618A6187751. . Downloaded on 19 August 2018.
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