Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Croitana aestiva (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006v) [Listing Advice].
 
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Croitana aestiva (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008adm) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (43) (14/08/2006) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006g) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Desert sand skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C., M. Braby, C. Wilson, C. Pavey & S. Ward, 2012) [Information Sheet].
Scientific name Croitana aestiva [26238]
Family Hesperiidae:Lepidoptera:Insecta:Arthropoda:Animalia
Species author E.D. Edwards, 1979
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images
http://www.ento.csiro.au/aicn/system/c_2489.htm

Scientific name: Croitana aestiva

Common name: Desert Sand-skipper

Other name: Aestiva Skipper

The Desert Sand-skipper is a conventionally accepted species (Edwards 1979).

The Desert Sand-skipper is a small brown and yellow butterfly about 22 mm across the outspread wings. The upper sides of the wings are dark brown with pale yellow markings. There is a central yellow patch, divided by brown veins, on the hind wing. The undersides of the wings are brown suffused with pale yellow, and have yellow spots. The clubs at the end of the antennae are bent near the base. Females can be distinguished from males by the more rounded termen (edge of the wing most distant from the body) (Braby 2000).

The Desert Sand-skipper was originally only known from a small number of specimens collected in 1966 and 1972 at three locations in the MacDonnell Ranges, west of Alice Springs, Northern Territory:

  • 25 km west of Alice Springs;
  • Standley Chasm, 41 km west of Alice Springs (parking area); and
  • Ellery Gorge, 75 km west of Alice Springs (Braby 2000).

In 2007, the Desert Sand-skipper was re-located in gorges in the Chewings Range, west of Alice Springs (Braby et al. 2007).

The collection location at Standley Chasm is likely to have been destroyed or degraded during extension of the public car park.

Prior to the species' rediscovery in 2007, the range of the Desert Sand-skipper was thought to span approximately 50 km; therefore, the extent of occurrence for the Desert Sand-skipper was estimated to be less than 100 km² (TSSC 2006v).

Prior to 2007, the Desert Sand-skipper's area of occupancy was thought to be less than 10 km² (TSSC 2006v).

A number of surveys, spanning a period of 25 years, have targeted skippers within the species' range, including extensive surveys in September-October 1978 (Edwards 1979) and February 1987 (Atkins & Miller 1987). Other surveys have targeted butterflies in general, especially collections of various amateur collectors. There has also been more general insect collecting within the species' range by experienced entomologists from the Queensland Museum and from the University of California, Riverside in February 2002. The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service also conducted surveys in 2002. It is thus likely that the scarcity of Desert Sand-skipper specimens in collections reflects a genuine restricted geographic range and rarity.

There are no estimates of population size for this species (TSSC 2006v). Only a handful of Desert Sand-skipper individuals have been collected. Five individuals were collected a location 25 km west of Alice Springs (1966), one was collected at Standley Chasm (1966), and 2 were collected at Ellery Gorge, 75 km west of Alice Springs (1972). After 1972, the Desert Sand-skipper was not recorded again until 2007 (Braby et al. 2007).

The recorded sites for the Desert Sand-skipper are assumed to reflect separate subpopulations.

The spread of Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) is expected to have degraded the habitat at all known locations and it is believed this will lead to the continued decline of the species (Braby et al. 2007; TSSC 2006v).

All known populations of the Desert Sand-skipper occur within the West MacDonnell National Park (Braby et al. 2007).

Adult Desert Sand-skippers have been collected in mulga-dominated low open woodland (Braby 2000). Three of the known sites for this species are associated with moister, rocky areas that are buffered from climatic extremes. The fourth site is on exposed, open, sandy plains and flats between the ranges (Braby et al. 2007).

The habitat and food requirements of the larval stages of this butterfly are unknown. The larvae of other Croitana species feed on grasses in the Enteropogon and Austrostipa genera, with adults feeding on daisy flowers (family Asteraceae) (Braby et al. 2007).

The species is not considered to be cryptic (difficult to observe), and was historically easily collected (TSSC 2006v). The Desert Sand-skipper has been collected following above-average rainfall (Braby et al. 2000).

Threats to the Desert Sand-skipper include the spread of Buffel Grass and its consequences, especially its displacement of native grasses, and its impact in increasing the frequency, intensity and extent of wildfires (Braby et al. 2007; TSSC 2006v).

Buffel Grass has invaded all sites from which the Desert Sand-skipper is known and is actively displacing native grasses (TSSC 2006v). The Desert Sand-skipper is likely to lay its eggs on native grasses, on which the larvae later feed (TSSC 2006v). Such species often have a very narrow host range and many lay eggs on only one plant species. Loss of the required native grass species will prevent the Desert Sand-skipper from breeding.

The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2006aq) recommended the following recovery and threat abatement actions as priorities for the species:

  • Undertake further surveys for the species at known sites and within other areas of suitable habitat to locate any remaining population/s.
  • Manage the presence of exotic Buffel Grass at the locations where the species has been known to occur, and protect any locations where populations are found from fire.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Harvesting for recreational purposes National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat changes caused by climate change National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Reduced rainfall caused by climate change National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Croitana aestiva (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006v) [Listing Advice].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Cenchrus ciliaris (Buffel-grass, Black Buffel-grass) National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Croitana aestiva (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006v) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Equus asinus (Donkey, Ass) National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Equus caballus (Horse) National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Croitana aestiva (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006v) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva (Palmer, C.M., 2010) [Recovery Plan].

Atkins, A. & C.G. Miller (1987). The life history of Croitana arenaria Edwards, 1979 (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Trapezitinae). Australian Entomological Magazine. 14:73-75.

Braby, M., C. Wilson, C. Pavey, C. Palmer (2007). Desert sand-skipper Croitana aestiva. In: Woinarski, J, C. Pavey, R. Kerrigan, I. Cowie & S. Ward, eds. Lost from our Landscape. Northern Territory Government.

Braby, M.F. (2000). Butterflies of Australia. Canberra: CSIRO.

Edwards, E.D. (1979). Two new species of Croitana Waterhouse (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) from central Australia. Australian Entomological Magazine. 6:29-38.

Palmer, C.M. (2010). National Recovery Plan for the Desert Sand-skipper Croitana aestiva. [Online]. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport, Northern Territory. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/desert-sand-skipper.html.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2006aq). NON-APPROVED Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Croitana aestiva. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/croitana-aestiva-conservation.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2006v). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Croitana aestiva. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/croitana-aestiva-listing.pdf.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Croitana aestiva in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:19:42 +1000.