Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Dam' the snails!

It's not one of the more exciting camaenids. It's small and — frankly — a bit dull. (See for yourself here.) But the boggomoss snail has one interesting trait — it is a short range endemic. And that has left it in deep doo doo.

The snail, Adclarkia dawsonensis, is restricted to a couple of localities near Taroom in central Queensland. It is associated with riparian vegetation in what is an otherwise dry area. The strange common name comes from the occurrence of this species near an artesian spring, known by locals as a boggomoss.

The entire population is estimated to be somewhere between 500 and 1100 individuals. The largest number occurs in dense vegetation along Delusion Creek. Another population of 100 or so lives near a boggomoss on Mount Rose Station. (Minus the 12 from that locality now in the wet collection at the Queensland Museum.)

As with just about every Australian land and freshwater snail, very little is known about the species. It's listed as critically endangered under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act on the basis of its extremely limited, disjunct distribution and a decline in numbers (which is inferred rather than measured directly).

Unfortunately for the snail, a dam proposed for the Dawson River will flood the Mount Rose population and may affect those along Delusion Creek as well. The Commonwealth Government put the kybosh on the plans in 2004 because of the projected environmental damage. Now the state government has stumped up the cash to do an environmental impact study and the Nathan Dam proposal is out of the blueprint file and back on the drawing board.

What happens next will depend on the results of the EIS. The snails have until 2010 before their fate is sealed.

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