Triboniophorus sp. nov. 'Kaputar' 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Stylommatophora Athoracophoridae

Scientific Name: Triboniophorus sp. nov. 'Kaputar'
Common Name(s):
English Kaputar Pink Slug

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii)+2ab(i,ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-05-31
Assessor(s): Murphy, M.
Reviewer(s): Seddon, M.B.
Contributor(s): Seddon, M.B. & Barker, G.
The Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar”) is assessed as Endangered (EN B1ab(i,ii,iii)+2ab(i,ii,iii)). This species is a narrow-range endemic from Mt Kaputar, NSW, Australia, with a highly restricted relictual distribution which is threatened by anthropogenic climate change, increased frequency of fire, degradation of habitats by feral pigs and habitat loss due to all of these threats.  The significant appeal of this vividly coloured species as an iconic flagship species vulnerable to climate change could assist global action on the threat posed by anthropogenic climate change to this and many other species.

Revised survey data on the distribution of the species on Mt Kaputar could result in up-listing to Critically Endangered, as the minimum estimate based on the distributional data for the extent of occurrence (EOO) is close to the threshold for Critically Endangered, it is the possible habitat areas in the highland area that leads to the higher end of the EOO estimates.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is restricted to areas above 1,000 m elevation on Mount Kaputar in northern inland New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It is the only member of the family Athoracophoridae found inland of the Great Dividing Range in Australia. All known records of the Kaputar Pink Slug are from the main highland area centred on the Mount Kaputar summit and the species has not been recorded during recent field surveys in the nearby lower elevation areas. There are other small outlying high elevation areas in and adjacent to the Mount Kaputar National Park which may support sub-populations but these are unsurveyed to date and hence are currently considered here as inferred habitat, until survey work has confirmed the presence of the Kaputar Pink Slug.
Countries occurrence:
Australia (New South Wales)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:36-288Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:107-538
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Yes
Number of Locations:1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No reliable estimate of total population of the species is available. All known records of the species are from the main highland area centred on the Mount Kaputar summit. Additional smaller outlying high elevation areas considered as potential habitat may support sub-populations but have yet to be surveyed. Activity by the Kaputar Pink Slug is also very weather dependent. Sixty three slugs were counted in 10 minutes along a 200 m walked transect along the edge of a roadside rock cutting on a mild night with light rain in November 2010. One night later under dry conditions only two slugs were seen on the same 200 m walked transect.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The local climate at Mount Kaputar is strongly influenced by elevation, with a temperature difference of up to 12°C between lowland and upland areas and mean annual rainfall varying from 800 mm in lowland areas to 1,200 mm in upland areas (Hunter and Alexander 2000). Areas above about 1,350 m (AHD) experience sub-alpine conditions including occasional snow. The vegetation varies with elevation and topographic shelter (Porteners 1997, 1998; Hunter and Alexander 2000). Areas between about 1,000 to 1,350 m (AHD) support open forest and tall open forest of Rough-barked Mountain Gum (Eucalyptus volcanica L.A.S. Johnson & K.D. Hill), Silvertop Stringybark (Eucalyptus laevopinea R.T. Baker) and Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha F. Muell. ex Benth). Sub-alpine peaks and plateaux above about 1,350 m AHD support open forest of Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora Sieber ex Spreng.), Ribbon Gum (Eucalyptus viminalis Labill.) and White Gum (Eucalyptus dalrympleana Maiden) and, in areas with shallow soils, heathland of Kunzea opposita F. Muell. and Leptospermum polygalifolium Salisb.

The slugs shelter during dry conditions under woody debris, loose rocks and leaf litter. On rainy nights they emerge and crawl over rock surfaces and shrubs and climb tree trunks to heights of 20 m or more. They generally return to shelter early in the morning but under suitably mild and cloudy conditions can continue activity until about midday. Most animals seen active by day are descending trees and returning to shelter. The slugs feed on micro-algae and fungi on the surface of bark and rocks, leaving characteristic feeding trails. The rate of movement of three slugs retreating to shelter was measured as an average of 15.9 cm/minute (range 8.9-19.8 cm/minute).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):0-5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no known trade in this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Anthropogenic climate change is considered the major threat to the taxon. Mount Kaputar is already marginal for sub-alpine ecosystems, being an isolated area at the north-west distributional limit for sub-alpine vegetation communities in Australia. The Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar”) and the other low-mobility narrow-range mesic-dependent endemic land snail species at Mount Kaputar are already highly restricted in distribution as a result of past climatic drying.

Anticipated climate changes due to anthropogenic causes are likely to put these species at very high risk of extinction in the near future through further reduction and fragmentation of geographic extent. Specialised communities that are naturally very limited in distribution are likely to be at risk of degradation or loss and higher altitude forests and heaths west of Australia’s Great Dividing Range, such as Mount Kaputar, are likely to be particularly sensitive to increase in temperatures and are likely to contract significantly (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water 2010).

Some land snail species are able to shift their elevation distribution in response to climate warming (Baur and Baur 2013); however, the Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar”) already occupies the highest parts of Mount Kaputar, so that a contraction from lower elevations must result in a net decrease in habitat area. A 100 m vertical rise in the environmental envelope to 1,100 m (AHD) would reduce the available high-elevation area by approximately 55% from 107 km2 to less than 48 km2, resulting in further fragmentation. Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures in the local region are very likely to increase by between 1° and 3°C by 2050 (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water 2010). Mount Kaputar National Park has an elevation range of 1,200 m and an associated temperature range of about 12°C. A rise in the environmental envelope of at least 100 m by 2050 is therefore considered highly likely.

Additional threats to the species include habitat degradation by increased frequency of fire and grazing of feral pigs. Some of Mount Kaputar’s sub-alpine vegetation communities have experienced fire frequencies above ecological thresholds and the risk of large intense wildfires extending into previously infrequently burnt wet forests and refugia is likely to increase as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Feral pigs Sus scrofa Linnaeus, 1758 remain widespread in Mount Kaputar National Park despite ongoing control efforts, damaging habitat by digging over soil and leaf litter, turning logs and loose rocks and trampling ground vegetation, and may also prey directly on the slugs. Feral pigs have been found to significantly reduce litter cover and be responsible for short-term and long-term reductions in the density of macro-invertebrates in mesic forest habitats (Taylor et al. 2011).

Much of the high-elevation wet eucalypt forest on freehold properties bordering the eastern edge of Mount Kaputar National Park has been cleared for agriculture and it is likely that the majority of off-park habitat for Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar” has been lost.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The majority of remaining habitat for Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar”) is protected within Mount Kaputar National Park with additional protection through the declaration of much of the park as wilderness under the NSW Wilderness Act 1987. The high-elevation and dry rainforest land snail community at Mount Kaputar, including Kaputar Pink Slug (Triboniophorus sp. nov. “Kaputar”) and a number of additional narrow-range endemic land snails, was listed as an endangered ecological community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 in December 2013 (NSW Scientific Committee 2013), the first endangered land snail community listing in Australia. This listing has raised the public profile of Mount Kaputar’s unique land snail community and the threats it faces and should increase the priority for funding and implementation of appropriate threat abatement and recovery actions. The major threat, however, (anthropogenic climate change) does not respect lines on maps and requires coordinated action at the global scale.

Citation: Murphy, M. 2014. Triboniophorus sp. nov. 'Kaputar'. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T55242781A55243154. . Downloaded on 16 January 2018.
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