Dlinza pinwheel (Trachycystis clifdeni)

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Dlinza pinwheel
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Dlinza pinwheel fact file

Dlinza pinwheel description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumMollusca
ClassGastropoda
OrderStylommatophora
FamilyCharopidae
GenusTrachycystis (1)

The exceptionally striking Dlinza pinwheel (Trachycystis clifdeni) immediately stands out for the unusual whorl of bristles that radiate out from the edge of its shell, somewhat resembling the pinwheel firework after which it is named. The fragile, almost translucent pale-brown shell is a spiral shape with up to five whorls, sculptured with widely spaced axial riblets (2).

Also known as
Dlinza forest pinwheel.
Size
Diameter: up to 9.7 mm (2)
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Dlinza pinwheel biology

Nothing is known of the Dlinza pinwheel’s reproductive biology, life history patterns or feeding behaviour.

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Dlinza pinwheel range

The Dlinza pinwheel is known only from Dlinza Forest, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, which covers an area of just circa 250 hectares (1) (2).

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Dlinza pinwheel habitat

A unique snail, the Dlinza pinwheel is found in coastal scarp forest (1) beneath leaves of understorey vegetation, under fallen logs, in leaf-litter, and occasionally in damp swampy areas (2).

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Dlinza pinwheel status

The Dlinza pinwheel is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Critically Endangered

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Dlinza pinwheel threats

The Dlinza Forest is officially protected and is under the control of Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (1) (3). However, the forest’s location within an urban environment does give some cause for concern. Furthermore, the Dlinza pinwheels' very limited distribution means that it is highly vulnerable to the damaging effects of extreme stochastic weather conditions and climate change (1).

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Dlinza pinwheel conservation

The fact that Dlinza Forest is an officially protected area, supported by an enthusiastic local community, does confer a degree of protection to the Critically Endangered Dlinza pinwheel. Nevertheless, the small and exposed nature of its home means that this rare and fascinating snail remains somewhat helpless to the changing world around it (1). More research into the ecology and behaviour of this small but captivating species may help unearth valuable information to help guide appropriate conservation action and bring the diminutive ‘pinwheel’ back from the brink of extinction.

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Find out more

For more information on the Dlinza pinwheel: 

  • Herbert, D.G. & Kilburn, R.N. (2004) Field guide to the land snails and slugs of eastern South Africa. 340pp. Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg.
  • IUCN Red List:
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
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Authentication

Authenticated (13/07/2006) by Dr. Dai G. Herbert, Chief Curator: Mollusca, KwaZulu-Natal Museum, and member of the IUCN/SSC Southern African Invertebrate, and Mollusc Specialist Groups.
http://www.nmsa.org.za/

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Scarp
An escarpment, cliff, or steep slope of some extent along the margin of a plateau or ridge.
Stochastic
Random, uncertain or unpredictable.
Whorl
In molluscs,the spiral coils of the shell of a snail.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Inland Invertebrate Initiative: Database of Threatened Invertebrates of South Africa (June, 2006)
    http://www.ukzn.ac.za/redlist/detail_page.asp?id=210
  3. Herbert, D. (2006) Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Dlinza pinwheel  
Dlinza pinwheel

© Dai Herbert / Natal Museum

Dai Herbert, Natal Museum
dherbert@nmsa.org.za

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