Engaeus phyllocercus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Parastacidae

Scientific Name: Engaeus phyllocercus Smith & Schuster, 1913
Common Name(s):
English Narracan Burrowing Crayfish

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2010-06-01
Assessor(s): Doran, N. & Horwitz, P.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B. & Richman, N.
Contributor(s): Livingston, F., Livingston, F., Soulsby, A.-M., Batchelor, A., Dyer, E., Whitton, F., Milligan, H.T., Smith, J., Lutz, M.L., De Silva, R., McGuinness, S., Kasthala, G., Jopling, B., Sullivan, K. & Cryer, G.
Engaeus phyllocercus has been assessed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(iii). This species has an estimated extent of occurrence of approximately 350 km² and a severely fragmented distribution. Surveys have been conducted to locate this species in other surrounding areas, but no records have been found. However, it is thought to be common within its range. The habitat surrounding this species' range has been significantly modified by agriculture and grazing leaving only a few remnant areas where native vegetation persists; it is within these areas that that this species has been found. Many of the remnant areas are located on private land which is not protected from cattle compacting the clayey soils. Forestry is also impacting this area, but it is not known to what extent it is impacting this species. Climate change also poses a significant future threat to this species. Conservation measures including the protection of riparian strips and native vegetation, are being implemented but it is yet to be seen how effective these are in stabilising population numbers.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Victoria, Australia, and has been recorded from a 30 km section of the highland region to the north and west of the western Strzelecki Ranges in South Gippsland, Victoria. It is restricted to localities above 120 m in altitude. The range is likely to be slightly increased westward by further collecting, however extensive collections in northerly, southerly and easterly directions have failed to reveal its presence (Horwitz 1990). This species has a distribution of approximately 350 km2

Countries occurrence:
Australia (Victoria)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):120
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no population information for this species, although the species can be locally abundant (P. Howritz pers. comm. 2009).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is typically found in the flood-bed regions of fern tree gullies in temperate, wet sclerophyll forests. The lateral burrow branches may be constructed immediately beneath the root mats of the tree ferns. The soils in such flood-beds are usually high in organic matter, have a high silt component, and are dark in colour (Horwitz 1990). Van Praagh and Hinkley (1999) found that many of the sites they surveyed had a dense understorey or dominance of tree ferns such as Soft Tree Fern (Dicksonia antarctica) and Rough Tree Fern (Cyathea australis), as well as the "wet ferns" Mother Shield Fern (Polystichum proliferum) and Hard Water Fern (Blechnum wattsii). Buttercup (Ranunculus spp.) and native nettle (Urtica incisa) often made up a sometimes quite sparse ground cover.

Burrows of this species may occasionally be found in the banks of flowing creeks, and under these circumstances the burrows usually have two or three openings (which are chimneyed), descending to the water level where they have a horizontal component before descending further to the deepest level of the water-table. The largest male found was 26.1 mm carapace length. Mature females ranged from 20.2 to 25 mm carapace length. The species appears to breed in mid to late spring and carries larvae during summer, probably releasing juveniles in late summer. The species life history and ecological requirements is poorly known (Horwitz 1990).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is relatively common within its range, but has a very restricted distribution. The area where the species has been recorded was previously tall wet sclerophyll forest dominated by Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) (Horwitz 1990). Much of the area has been significantly modified since European settlement, primarily being cleared for dairy farming and crops such as potatoes. Many of the gullies in which the species occurs retain some native vegetation (Horwitz 1990). In its final recommendation, the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC 1993) determined that this species is highly vulnerable to future threats which are likely to result in extinction. At present the distribution of the species on cleared land and the extent of stock grazing within the known range of the crayfish, is unclear. Due to the clayey nature of the soil, riparian habitat is particularly sensitive to pugging and compaction by stock (Van Praagh 2003b). Removal of riparian vegetation and grazing is contributing to soil erosion, stream bank damage, siltation of streams and possible damage to the crayfish burrows. Although the role of native vegetation in the survival of the species is not known, the species occurs predominantly in areas where remnant riparian vegetation remains (Horwitz 1990). This suggests that native vegetation may be important for this species conservation (Van Praagh 2003b). The distribution of this species encompasses land used for timber production. Little is known about the impacts of forestry practices on the crayfish, however it is thought that forestry activities may pose direct and indirect threats to the crayfish through habitat destruction from creation or use of logging roads, and removal of vegetation (Horwitz 1990). Broad scale habitat change and changes in weather, water and drainage patterns due to climate change could become a major issue in the future (N. Doran pers. comm. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species has been listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (SAC 1993). Any activity which damages stream bank integrity and alters water tables or drainage lines could be potentially harmful. The surrounding streamside vegetation within the plantation area is currently protected by Regional Prescriptions and the Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production (NRE 1996), which excludes timber extraction operations from streamside buffers and steep zones. A requirement of this code is the production of Forest Management Plans (FMPs) which include detailed prescriptions for the conservation of native forest fauna (Van Praagh 2003b).

Conservation measures in the management plan include surveys and monitoring to accurately map the distribution of the species (Van Praagh 2003b). The responsibility of NRE (Parks, Flora and Fauna Division, Forests Service, Gippsland Region) includes; encourage research into the biology and ecology of the Narracan Burrowing Crayfish to identify the effects of agricultural and forest management practices on crayfish populations; establish a buffer zone around selected localities (the number to be determined when extent of population distribution is known), and avoid locating roads or tracks within buffer zones. Burns within crayfish habitat should be avoided during late spring and early summer when the species is close to or above the soil surface (Van Praagh 2003b).

Education programs will involve local Landcare groups and other community groups such as field naturalists in the conservation of the species. These programs will include landholders and land managers, and educate them about the crayfish through this Action Statement and the production of a colour brochure. Habitat restoration will include the rehabilitation of degraded environments where the species is known to occur. Landowners within the catchment of the Land for Wildlife Program, will be advised of grants that are available to assist in protecting and enhancing riparian habitat (Van Praagh 2003b).

Citation: Doran, N. & Horwitz, P. 2010. Engaeus phyllocercus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T7739A12846120. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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