The NSW Scientific Committee have made a final determination to list the Mt Kaputar high elevation and dry rainforest land snail and slug community as an endangered ecological community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. This is the first entire land snail community to be listed as endangered in Australia. The driving force behind the listing has been Michael Murphy of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service with advice from BAAM ecological consultant and land snail expert, Dr John Stanisic. Dr Stanisic had conducted several snail collecting expeditions to the mountain (c. 1983, 1993) and was responsible for discovering many of the species.
Mt Kaputar lies in the Nandewar Ranges which are east of the New England Ranges circumscribed by their own distinct bioregion. The land snail community of this high elevation mesic refuge presently consists of 20 species (eight endemic) in seven families. Several of these species have yet to be formally described. Most notable among these is the bright pink version of the Red-triangle Slug which is distinct from similar forms occurring on the New England Tableland and in forests further east.
The major threat to this community is seen as climate change resulting in increased bushfire activity and slow contraction of the high elevation refugia. The ability of land snail species (and presumably other invertebrates) to adapt to these changes will depend on their inherent resilience. Having survived the successive waves of climatic change in the Plio-Pleistocene, the land snails of Mt Kaputar may be in a ‘front stall’ position to deal with future climate induced changes.