Skip to main content

Poweliphanta Augusta

Introducing Poweliphanta Augusta

Poweliphanta Augusta are a recently discovered species of carnivorous land snail of the Poweliphanta genus, native only to the Stockton coal plateau of Mount Augustus in New Zealand. Due to coal mining of their habitat by a New Zealand resource company, Solid Energy, most of the native population of snails has been removed. These snails are now held in captivity by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DoC) or have been released outside their original habitat.

Before the mining, the Stockton plateau had highly acidic and infertile soil, low drainage and was exposed to heavy wind and rain. Despite these harsh characteristics it had become home to highly complex ecosystem, including many animals and plants that had been uniquely adapted to survive there. On the basis of this it was recommended for government protection on the basis of its complex ecology and biodiversity.

The Poweliphanta genus are exclusively found in New Zealand, and like P.Augusta, most have extremely small habitats and generally suffer from declining populations due to predation. As a result the species and subspecies of this genus have been given a high conservation status.

One of the characteristics that differentiates P.Augusta from the majority of snails in their genus is their ability to survive in the harsh terrain of the Stockton plateau. Large land snails require both calcium for shell and egg formation, and plentiful earthworms for prey. As a result genera other than P.Augusta generally live in the areas where these prey are plentiful, areas with alkaline and well drained soil.

Possibly due to the environment they are adapted to, they grow incredably slowly, and live incredably long, possibly in excess of 70 years. Due to their recent discovery, and subsequent destruction of their environment they have never been observed in their habitat for any length of time their growth process can only be estimated from their population dynamics and their growth rates in captivity.

happy snail

P. Augusta Links
Read my research findings (PDF Document) My masters project 
See photographs of their natural habitat, and read about the people still trying to save it http://www.savehappyvalley.org.nz/
Learn about the governments Department of Conservation http://www.doc.govt.nz/
Read about the energy company http://www.coalnz.com/index.cfm/1,127,0,49,html and order the free movie they have made that glosses over the ecological problems they are embroiled in http://www.coalnz.com/index.cfm/1,250,0,49,html/Snail-the-Movie