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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aeg) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan has been adopted as a recovery plan under the EPBC Act and Lord Howe Island is a current World Heritage Area. Therefore the approved conservation advice for this species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and manage key threats (19/12/2008).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares 2009 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009u) [Threat Abatement 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 (64) (19/12/2008) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008f) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Scientific name Mystivagor mastersi [81247]
Family Charopidae:Pulmonata:Gastropoda:Mollusca:Animalia
Species author Brazier, 1872
Infraspecies author  
Reference Brazier, J. (1872). Descriptions of six new species of land shells from Australia and Lord Howe's Island. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1872: 617-619
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

Scientific name: Mystivagor mastersi

Common Name: Masters' Charopid Land Snail

The species is conventionally accepted as Mystivagor mastersi.

Masters' Charopid Land Snail has a small shell (6.5 mm in diameter and 4.5 mm in height) of three whorls and a dull yellowish brown colouration, flamed with brown (Iredale 1944). It is the only member of a monotypic genus endemic to Lord Howe Island.

On Lord Howe Island, Masters' Charopid Land Snail has been recorded from only a few sites, including the summit of Mount Lidgbird, Mt Gower, Blinky Beach and Boat Harbour. The species is now suspected to be restricted to the rugged areas at the southern end of the island (TSSC 2008ael).

Recent survey work suggests the species' geographic distribution has declined so that it is now confined to Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower, where its current distribution is less 15 km². This represents a very restricted geographic distribution, especially given that the species is only located on Lord Howe Island (TSSC 2008ael).

There is no population estimate available for Masters' Charopid Land Snail. Masters' Charopid Land Snail may have had a reduction in numbers or may naturally be rare.

The total number of specimens of Masters' Charopid Land Snail collected between 1869 and 2002 lodged in the Australian Museum collection is 17, which is a very small number of specimens compared with the number of specimens of other snail taxa collected from Lord Howe Island. Masters' Charopid Land Snail collections represent just 0.08% of the total number of specimens in the Lord Howe Island snail collection.

It is possible that the relative abundance of the species is naturally low compared to other species of snail on Lord Howe Island. It is also possible that, like other Lord Howe Island snails, Masters' Charopid Land Snail has undergone a reduction in numbers due to the introduction of pigs and goats, which cause damage to habitat, and rats, which prey upon this snail species. Uncertainty about the species' habitat requirements, however, makes this a tentative assumption (TSSC 2008ael).

The generation length of Masters' Charopid Land Snail is not known.

As the species is severely restricted and due to the limited dispersal capability of these species, all populations of Masters' Charopid Land Snail are important.

The Lord Howe Island Group is listed as a World Heritage Area (DEWHA undated). Whilst Masters' Charopid Land Snail is found within the reserved area in the southern half of the island, their very limited numbers and very restricted distributions make them highly vulnerable to extinction (TSSC 2008ael).

Little is known about the biology and ecology of this very rare species. The species is suggested to be arboreal, but actual habitat requirements are unclear (TSSC 2008ael).

Habitat degradation and modification
The Lord Howe Island Group was listed as World Heritage in 1982 (DEWHA undated). Much of the island is covered in rainforest, with about 10% of land area cleared, for urban development and agriculture, with a further 20% disturbed by introduced animals and exotic weeds (WWF 2001). The southern half of the island is reserved, and whilst this is where the Masters' Charopid Land Snail occurs, the restricted distribution of the species makes it highly vulnerable to extinction from on-going threats or catastrophic events.

Feral animals
The key threat to Masters' Charopid Land Snail is predation by introduced rats. The Ship Rat (Rattus rattus), arrived on the island from a wrecked ship in 1918 and has since become well established on Lord Howe Island (DEWHA undated). Ship Rats prey on snail species, and are thought to have been responsible for the significant decline in, and possible extinction of Placostylus bivaricosus etheridgei on Lord Howe Island (NSW NPWS 2001a; Ponder 1997b). Ship Rats are likely to prey on Masters' Charopid Land Snail, though the program of baiting of rats currently undertaken on the island is likely to benefit the species if it persists on Mount Gower. However, this baiting program is unlikely to completely mitigate the effect of predation by Ship Rats on Masters' Charopid Land Snail as it is not undertaken across the species' entire range. Two large species of land snails, Epiglypta howinsulae and Placostylus bivaricosus etheridgei that were restricted to the southern mountains are apparently now extinct, almost certainly due to the activity of the Ship Rat (Ponder 1997b). The New South Wales Scientific Committee has declared predation by the Ship Rat on Lord Howe Island as a key threatening process (NSW Scientific Committee 2000a).

Pigs and goats that were introduced to Lord Howe Island by settlers for food later became feral pests (DEWHA undated). Both species caused damage to the surface litter and ground cover in areas where Masters' Charopid Land Snail occurred, most notably the trail to Mt Gower (Smithers et al. 1977). It is likely that this resulted in a decline in the species' numbers. However, these pest species are no longer likely to be directly impacting on the species, as pigs have now been eliminated from the island, and goats virtually eliminated (DEWHA undated).

Another potential threat to Masters' Charopid Land Snail is predation and habitat disturbance by invasive ant species. The African Big Headed Ant (Pheidole megacephala) is present in the northern settlement area of Lord Howe Island and may affect Masters' Charopid Land Snail should it invade the area where the species occurs.

Further potential threats to Masters' Charopid Land Snail include introduced birds, particularly the Song Thrush (Turdus philomelas) and Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), which prey upon Placostylus species on Lord Howe Island and may prey on Masters' Charopid Land Snail. Although the habitat of Masters' Charopid Land Snail is protected in the reserved southern area of Lord Howe Island, the species is potentially threatened by trampling, disturbance and collection by visitors, habitat damage by weeds and wildfire.

Global warming
The cloud forest on top of Mount Gower is threatened by global warming (UNESCO 2002).

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has prepared a Conservation Advice for Masters' Charopid Land Snail, that identifies research and action priorities for the species. these include:

  • Research into the biology and ecology of the species.
  • Monitoring of populations in existing locations and assessing the efficiency of management.
  • Investigating and monitoring the impacts of rodent eradication methods on non-target species and other environmental impacts.
  • Implementation of the Biodiversity Management Plan of Lord Howe Island. (TSSC 2008aeq)

Minister's Reasons for Recovery Plan decision:

The Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan has been adopted as a recovery plan under the EPBC Act and Lord Howe Island is a current World Heritage Area. Therefore the approved conservation advice for this species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and manage key threats. A recovery plan is not considered to be necessary at this time.

A Biodiversity Management Plan of Lord Howe Island (DECC 2007) has been prepared and a Threat Abatement Plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 ha (Commonwealth of Australia 2008) is in preparation.

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has also prepared a Conservation Advice for Masters' Charopid Land Snail (Tssc 2008aeg).

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:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aeg) [Conservation Advice].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation by rats Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aeg) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Turdus merula (Common Blackbird, Eurasian Blackbird) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Turdus philomelos (Song Thrush) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Pheidole megacephala (Big-headed Ant, Coastal Brown Ant, Brown House Ant, Lion Ant) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Capra hircus (Goat) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008ael) [Listing Advice].

Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (undated). Heritage Places: Lord Howe Island Group. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detailplace_id=105085.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009u). Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares 2009. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/exotic-rodents.html.

Iredale, T. (1944). The Land Mollusca of Lord Howe Island. Australian Zoologist. 10(3):299-330.

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2001a). Lord Howe Placostylus Placostylus bivaricosus (Gaskoin 1855) Recovery Plan. Hurstville, New South Wales: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

NSW Scientific Committee (2000a). Predation by the ship rat on Lord Howe Island - key threatening process declaration (final determination). Predation by the ship rat on Lord Howe Island - key threatening process declaration. [Online]. Available from: http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=20019.

Ponder, W.F. (1997b). Conservation status, threats and habitat requirements of Australian terrestrial and freshwater mollusca. Memoirs of the Museum of Victoria. 56:421-430.

Smithers, C., D. McAlpine, P. Colman & M. Gray (1977). Lord Howe Island. Special Issue of Australian Natural History. Page(s) 23-26. Sydney: The Australian Museum.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008aeg). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mystivagor mastersi. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81247-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008ael). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mystivagor mastersi. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81247-listing-advice.pdf.

UNESCO (2002). Australian National Periodic Report. Section II. Report on the state of conservation of Lord Howe Island. UNESCO Periodic Report 2002 (section II Lord Howe Id). 1-28. Page(s) 1-28.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (2001). Lord Howe Island subtropical forests (AA0109). Wildworld WWF Full Report. [Online]. World Wildlife Fund. Available from: http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/aa/aa0109_full.html.

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). Mystivagor mastersi in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 3 Sep 2014 13:40:44 +1000.