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Hickman's pygmy mountain shrimp

Current Status

[Photo of Allanaspides by F. McConnel.]

This tiny shrimp (Allanaspides hickmani) is listed as rare under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.

What's so great about Allanaspides?

It belongs to a group of animals which are endemic to Tasmania - that is they are only found here, not anywhere else in the world. This fascinating group (syncarids) are described as living fossils because they resemble primitive forms found in the fossil record from 200 million years ago!

It is thought that they may be surviving remnant species of lake systems from millions of years ago. As the lakes dried up the mountain shrimps became more terrestial in their habits living in the water table in the soil. They do not live in lakes any more and are now only found in freshwater crayfish (Parasticoides) burrows and surface pools amongst the buttongrass.

Why is this species threatened?

There are only two species of Allanaspides. both found in south-west Tasmania. A. hickmani is listed as threatened because it is such a rare species and is only found in two localities close to Strathgordon. Much of its already restricted habitat was lost as a result of hydro-inundation when Lake Pedder was flooded. It is unlikely to have survived in the lake environment due to predation by native and introduced fishes.

The major threats to this species are now fires and floods. It is illegal to light fires in buttongrass areas except for authorised burns. Another threatened species which occurs in the World Heritage Area of Western Tasmania is the orange-bellied parrot. This bird requires regular burning of its buttongrass habitat to promote food sources. However regular burning of the mountain shrimp's buttongrass habitat would be a disaster. Fortunately, the peat here remains waterlogged so is unlikely to be fire promoting. You can see the conflict of management actions required for these two species. This is why it is important to gather as much information on each threatened species as possible.

This tiny shrimp relies on surface pools and crayfish burrows for its survival. If the water regime changes in this area, this shrimp would be put at risk. So if its restricted habitat was drained, flooded or polluted by fire activity this could impact on the shrimp's survival.

What is being done?

There is no research occuring on this species at present, although some has occurred in the past. Some research into habitat characterisation of the very closely related species A. helonomus has been carried out. It is likely that threats to and needs of, these two species could be correlated.

View Distribution Map

Recommended further reading

Horwitz P. 1990. The Conservation Status of Australian Freshwater Crustacea. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Horwitz P. 1989. The Faunal Assemblage (or pholeteros) Of Some Freshwater Crayfish Burrows In Southwest Tasmania. Bull. Aust. Soc. Limnol. 12: 29-36.