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 Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aem) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, "a regional multi-species recovery plan incorporates this species and it is likely to be extinct on Norfolk Island, but may survive on Phillip Island. 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].
 
Information Sheets What the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) means for Norfolk Islanders (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2004i) [Information Sheet].
 
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 Mathewsoconcha suteri [81851]
Family Helicarionidae:Pulmonata:Gastropoda:Mollusca:Animalia
Species author Sykes, 1900
Infraspecies author  
Reference D. Neuweger, P. White & W.F. Ponder (2001). Land Snails from Norfolk Island Sites in Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 27: 115-122
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: Mathewsoconcha suteri

Mathewsoconcha suteri is a small land snail that is 9–10 mm in diameter and 6–6.5 mm high. It has an orange-brown to fawn coloured shell with a narrow white peripheral band and a depressed spire (Hyman 2005).

Mathewsoconcha suteri occurs in a few isolated localities on Norfolk Island, including Norfolk Island National Park and Rocky Point Reserve (formerly known as Hundred Acres Reserve) (TSSC 2008aer).

Fossils of M. suteri suggest that the species' former distribution was more widespread than its current distribution. Fossils are known from the Cemetery Bay and Emily Bay areas of Norfolk Island, where the species was noted as being 'very common' (Varman 1991). These fossil deposits date from prior to a brief period of Polynesian settlement until European settlement. Collections made between 1865 and 1945 show that the species' distribution also included Ball Bay and Cascade Reserve. The current distribution of the species, based on collections made since 1945, suggest that M. suteri is now restricted to a few isolated localities in Norfolk Island National Park and Rocky Point Reserve. Although an estimate of the species' extent of occurrence is not available, given the isolation of its island location, the small area of Norfolk Island (approximately 35 km²) and the clear reduction of the species' range within this small area, M. suteri has a very restricted geographic distribution (TSSC 2008aer).

The Territory of Norfolk Island is 1700 km north-east of Sydney in the South Pacific Ocean. The Territory includes Norfolk Island, as well as Nepean and Phillip Islands, which are smaller, uninhabited islands to the south of Norfolk Island (DEH 2000). The islands are volcanic in origin, formed by masses of basalt which arose from the ocean floor, a process which began about 3 million years ago and extended over 700 000 years. Over time, the islands have been colonised by plants and animals (TSSC 2008aer). It is recognised that Norfolk Island has a high diversity of land snails relative to other similar sized islands (Iredale 1944).

A total of 68 specimens (predominantly dead specimens) of Mathewsoconcha suteri have been collected from Norfolk Island and lodged at the Australian Museum, the most recent of which was lodged in 2002. Relative to the total number of all snail specimens collected from Norfolk Island, this is a small number which suggests that M. suteri may have occurred at low numbers from the time of the first collections in 1865. However, fossils of M. suteri suggest that the species was previously common prior to a brief period of Polynesian settlement until European settlement (TSSC 2008aer).

The change in abundance of M. suteri between the fossil deposits and as suggested by more recent collections suggests that the species has undergone a reduction in numbers. This is likely to be due to habitat clearance following European settlement of Norfolk Island and predation and habitat degradation caused by the introduction of several invasive species of plants and animals, including rats (Rattus spp.), to Norfolk Island (TSSC 2008aer).

Although there is likely to have been a decline in the species' numbers in more recent times due to predation by rats and ongoing decline in habitat quality due to weed invasion, which may continue in the future, there are no quantitative data available to judge that the species has undergone a recent reduction in numbers (TSSC 2008aer).

Mathewsoconcha suteri occurs in the Norfolk Island National Park and Rocky Point Reserve (TSSC 2008aer).

Specimens have been found inside hollowed out tree branches on the ground (TSSC 2008aer). A recent study (Neuweger et al. 2001) only collected this species in beach and dune ecosystems.

Norfolk Island has been intermittently occupied by various settlers who have dramatically altered the environment, predominantly by land clearing for agriculture and housing. Approximately 80% of the original vegetation has been cleared, and the invasion of remnants by weed species has been extensive. Much of the Norfolk Island landscape has been transformed from a densely vegetated sub-tropical island to a highly modified pastoral landscape characterised by grazed kikuyu pastures bordered by remnant woodland (DEH 2000, 2004i).

Little is known about the biology and ecology of this species. The generation length of Mathewsoconcha suteri is not known (TSSC 2008aem).

The key threat to Mathewsoconcha suteri is predation by introduced rats. The Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans) is presumed to have been introduced thousands of years ago by Polynesian visitors to Norfolk Island. The Black Rat (Rattus rattus) was introduced later, possibly around 1943 (DEH 2000). Both species are likely to have caused a decline in the numbers of M. suteri by direct predation. An extensive rat control program has been operating on Norfolk Island since 1992. This baiting program, however, is unlikely to completely mitigate the effect of predation by rats on M. suteri as it is not undertaken across the species' entire range (TSSC 2008aer).

The species' habitat is also likely to be declining in quality due to the presence of weed species on Norfolk Island. Over 200 species of introduced vascular plants have been recorded on Norfolk Island, including Lantana (Lantana camara), 'William Taylor' weed (Ageratina riparia) and Wild Tobacco (Solanum mauritianum) (Hyman 2005). Parks Australia has been implementing a weed control program involving the broad scale treatment and rehabilitation of weed infested areas, however it is likely that the habitat of M. suteri remains threatened, as weed control is not undertaken across the entire range of the species (TSSC 2008aer).

Land clearance is likely to have drastically altered habitat available to M. suteri, and caused a decline in the species' numbers. Land clearance since European settlement has been extensive on Norfolk Island, with approximately 80% of the original vegetation having been cleared for agriculture and housing (DEH 2004i).

An additional threat to M. suteri may be feral poultry, which have become common in Norfolk Island National Park. Anecdotal evidence suggests that feral poultry prey on snails and may reduce population numbers quickly. Other invasive species, such as ants and the African or Giant Land Snail, pose potential threats to M. suteri should they be introduced and become established on Norfolk Island. The likelihood of introduction and becoming established is unknown but remains a potential threat (TSSC 2008aer).

Although the habitat of M. suteri is protected in a reserved area and in Norfolk Island National Park, the species is also potentially threatened by wildfire and trampling, disturbance and collection by visitors (TSSC 2008aer).

Minister's reasons for recovery plan decision
A regional multi-species recovery plan incorporates this species. 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.

Recovery actions
The Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (TSSC 2008aem) outlines a number of recovery actions including:

  • Conduct surveys to identify locations of current populations of the species.
  • Monitor populations in existing locations and assess the efficiency of management.
  • Increase quarantine and surveillance measures in relation to potential introduced threats.
  • Establish captive breeding programs that could potentially lead to the establishment of additional populations of the species in the wild.
  • Identify known sites of high conservation priority.
  • Protect areas of native vegetation, that contain populations of the species or which could support populations in the future.
  • Revegetate key areas.
  • Raise awareness of the species within the local community.

Documents that may assist in the recovery of Mathewsoconcha suteri include the Norfolk Island Recovery Plan (in preparation), the Draft threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares (DEWR 2008) and the Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (TSSC 2008aem).

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
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Illegal hunting/harvesting and collection Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aem) [Conservation Advice].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Ageratina riparia (Mistflower, Mist Flower, Creeping Croftonweed, River Eupatorium, Spreading Mistflower) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Lantana camara (Lantana, Common Lantana, Kamara Lantana, Large-leaf Lantana, Pink Flowered Lantana, Red Flowered Lantana, Red-Flowered Sage, White Sage, Wild Sage) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Solanum mauritianum (Wild Tobacco Tree, Wild Tobacco Bush, Tobacco Tree) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aem) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus exulans (Pacific Rat, Polynesian Rat) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation by birds Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aem) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation by rats Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aem) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation Gallus gallus (Red Junglefowl, Domestic Fowl) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [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 Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aer) [Listing Advice].

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2000). Norfolk Island National Park and Norfolk Island Botanic Garden Plans of Management. Canberra, ACT: DEH.

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2004i). What the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) means for Norfolk Islanders. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/publications/norfolk-island/pubs/norfolk-island.pdf.

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.

Hyman, I. (2005). Taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary trends in Helicarionida (Mollusca, Pulmonata). Page(s) 1-583. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Sydney.

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

Neuweger, D., P. White & W.F. Ponder (2001). Land snails from Norfolk Island sites. Atholl Anderson and Peter White, eds. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Norfolk Island, Southwest Pacific. Records of the Australian Museum. 27:115-122. Sydney: Australian Museum.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008aem). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81851-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008aer). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mathewsoconcha suteri. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81851-listing-advice.pdf.

Varman, R.V.J.P. (1991). Conchological Survey 1983-90: Manuscript of Land Mollusca Fossiliferous and Present Day. Unpublished manuscript.

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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). Mathewsoconcha suteri in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:26:24 +1000.