Sphaeromimus splendidus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Diplopoda Sphaerotheriida Arthrosphaeridae

Scientific Name: Sphaeromimus splendidus Wesener & Sierwald, 2005
Common Name(s):
English Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede
Taxonomic Source(s): Spelda J. 2013. Systematic Myriapod Database. Munich, Germany Available at:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A3c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2014-09-04
Assessor(s): Wesener, T. & Rudolf, E.
Reviewer(s): Hochkirch, A. & Mumford, N.

The Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus splendidus) is only known from one small forest fragment, which belongs to the littoral forest of Sainte Luce. Due to its restriction to this small remnant, its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be only 10 km², while the area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be five to eight km². The fragment is continuously declining due to various anthropogenic activities within the forest and additionally seriously threatened by a planned strip-mining project, which will lead to the destruction of most of the remaining forest in Sainte Luce (Vincelette et al. 2003, Ganzhorn et al. 2007) and accordingly to a reduction in the population size of more than 80%. Due to the potential future destruction of most of the forest in Sainte Luce, the species is inferred to occur in only one location. Due to the continuous decrease of suitable habitat, the species’ EOO, AOO and the number of mature individuals are continuously declining. The Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede is thus assessed as Critically Endangered under criteria A3c, B1 and B2.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus splendidus) (Wesener and Sierwald 2005) is endemic to the littoral rainforest of Sainte Luce. More precisely, the species only occurs in a forest fragment on sandy soil, which is known as the fragment S9 and is situated in the north of Sainte Luce. The close-by fragment on lateritic soil is occupied by a different, not closely related species, the Sainte Luce Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus saintelucei Wesener, 2014). The fragment S9 consists of less than 5 km² of littoral rainforest. The extent of occurrence is therefore estimated to be only 10 km², while the area of occupancy is estimated to be 8 km².
Interestingly, the closest relative to the Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede is apparently the Lavasoa Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus lavasoa Wesener, 2014), occurring on a mountain 40 km to the South (Wesener et al. 2014). The lowland rainforest in between both localities is either completely destroyed (Green and Sussman 1990, Dumetz 1999), or settled by a different species of the genus (in Mandena, the Pink Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus inexpectatus Wesener and Sierwald 2005).
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:5-8Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:10
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):20
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No data on population sizes exists. Given the small area of occurrence, which currently has a forest cover of less than 5 km ², any remaining population is probably tiny. The species was common in the Sainte Luce littoral rainforest fragments in 2003 (Wesener and Sierwald 2005) and 2007 (Wesener and Wägele 2007). Based on the decrease of suitable habitat, a continuing decline in the number of mature individuals and a decreasing population trend is inferred. Furthermore, the population size is suspected to have been decreased by 30% in the past 21 years due to anthropogenic activities like slash-and-burn agriculture and to decline by 90% in the next 21 years due to a planned mining project.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus splendidus Wesener and Sierwald 2005) is endemic to one small fragment of littoral rainforest on sandy soil in Sainte Luce, southeastern Madagascar. In the nearby, and formerly connected, forest fragment on lateritic soil, the not closely related Sainte Luce Giant Pill-Millipede (Sphaeromimus saintelucei Wesener, 2014) occurs. The littoral forest of Sainte Luce also hosts unique (endemic) plant species such as palm trees (Dumetz 1999, Bollen and Donati 2006, Snow et al. 2012), while the fragments on sandy soil another endemic millipede species (Riotintobolus minutus Wesener, 2009). 
Like most giant pill-millipedes, the Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede lives in the sheltered soil matrix, feeding on decaying wood and the leaf litter. The high density of this millipede species, together with the fact that oligochaete (earthworm) faunas are poor on sandy soils, makes the Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede a focal species of the nutrient cycling activity in the Sainte Luce littoral rainforest, and a potential key species to its regeneration.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is not utilised.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Habitat destruction is the main threat to the Shiny Giant Pill-Millipede. This species is adapted to live in the sheltered soil matrix under forest cover. It seems to be especially adapted to littoral rainforests on sandy soils, of which in SE Madagascar only three remain: Sainte Luce, Mandena and Petriky (Ganzhorn et al. 2001). It does not occur in Petriky and Mandena. A strong reduction of lowland forests on Madagascar (Green and Sussman 1990) lead to a strongly restricted occurrence of the species in just 5 km² of remaining forest. The littoral rainforest of Sainte Luce is only partly degraded, but still suffers under wood removal and grazing. Edge effects by fire now have a negative impact on the extent of the forest (Ramanamanjato 2007). The largest threat to the continuous survival of the Sainte Luce Giant Pill-Millipede is a planned titanium strip-mining project by RioTintos subsidary QMM, which will lead to the destruction of most forest habitat at Sainte Luce (Vincelette et al. 2003, Ganzhorn et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The littoral rainforest of Sainte Luce is part of the Madagascar protected area network. The fragment of S9 receives protection through the NGO Azafady, project Telopoloambilany, as well as through private institution. A COBA (local forest management committee) is in place. However, protection is not enforced. Wood removal and even small-scale slash/burn agriculture continues. Edge effects by fires in the pseudosteppe surrounding the small forest fragment continue to damage the forest, as fire suppression or controlled burning techniques are not applied on Madagascar. The impact of a future titanium ore strip-mining project by RioTintos subsidary QMM will be negative and might lead to the total removal of the forest fragment, the only known remaining habitat of the Sainte Luce Giant Pill-Millipede. Urgent conservation measures are needed, even ex-situ conservation might be attempted until natural forest cover has been secured at the site.

Citation: Wesener, T. & Rudolf, E. 2017. Sphaeromimus splendidus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T65526540A65527790. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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