Between 10 and 14 new species of land snail have been discovered in Northern Australia in the Katherine and Victoria River District (VRD).
The discovery was part of a project that involved scientists from the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS) along with rangers from the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service spending 12 days searching for snails in the area.
A total of 61 sites, mostly in remote areas, were surveyed between Katherine and Kununurra.
The findings will help determine the snails’ distribution and habitat preferences and will identify potential threats. The scientists will now be able to develop recovery plans, monitoring programs and conservation management.
“Although we won’t know the exact number of species sampled for some time, there are somewhere between 10 and 14 species new to science and many species appearing to have only very small distributions” said Dr Michael Braby, NRETAS Biodiversity Conservation research scientist.
“Land snails are an important part of a complex food chain – they provide food for other animals such as birds and other vertebrates – and cycle nutrients such as nitrates and calcium back into the soil” he added.