Tuesday 21 May
Hawaiian tree snail (Partulina physa)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Hawaiian tree snail fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Hawaiian tree snail description
The Hawaiian Islands were once the setting for the world’s most remarkable and extensive radiation of snails, and, consequently, boast an impressive diversity of snail species (2). The Hawaiian tree snail has a flat, muscular foot that protrudes from the opening of its conical-shaped, spiral shell, and enables it to grasp firmly to trees. Typical of other snails in the Stylommatophora order, two pairs of tentacles extend conspicuously from the head, with the upper pair bearing eyes at the tip. The calcareous shell, which is lighter in weight than that of related terrestrial species, is highly variable in colour, with pigments of cream, white and brown providing an attractive, marbled appearance (3).Top
Hawaiian tree snail biology
Owing to its rarity, relatively little is known about the life history of the Hawaiian tree nail. However, as suggested by its common name, this arboreal species is found on the trunk, stem and leaves of native tree species. Moving slowly over short distances it feeds upon specific fungi, which it senses using olfactory cues (5). This species bears live young, with some four to seven offspring born per year, a slow reproduction rate amongst snails (5) (6). When born, the young measure only four to five millimetres in length, and grow slowly to reach maturity in their fourth to seventh year of age (6).Top
Hawaiian tree snail range
Historically, the Hawaiian tree snail was found across the island of Hawaii; however, today just a single relict population remains in the Kohala Mountains, with a range no more than 250 square kilometres (4) (5).Top
Hawaiian tree snail habitat
The Hawaiian tree snail inhabits moist rainforest, approximately 1,200 metres above sea level (4).Top
Hawaiian tree snail status
Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Hawaiian tree snail threats
As a result of human disturbances, the Hawaiian Islands have seen devastating extinction rates, and today, over half of the described tree snails are thought to be extinct (7). Having suffered from habitat loss, the Hawaiian tree snail is now restricted to just a single location, with a population of less than 1,000 individuals (5). This species first came under threat when the first settlers on the Hawaiian Islands began logging the lowland forests, replacing natural habitats with agricultural lands and cattle ranches. These destructive activities were compounded by the introduction of non-native predators, such as rats and the predatory snail Euglandina rosea, and alien plant species, which overgrow native plant seedlings, limiting natural forest regeneration (2). As a result, the Hawaiian tree snail, listed as a Species of Concern by the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Service, is under severe threat of extinction (8). The survival of this species is also hindered by its slow reproduction rate and the degradation of its habitat by feral pigs and goats (5) (6).Top
Hawaiian tree snail conservation
Like many other Hawaiian snail species, the restricted geographic range and small population size of the Hawaiian tree snail makes it vulnerable to habitat degradation and, consequently, its survival may be dependant upon conservation measures (6). Fortunately for this species, efforts are underway to protect its fragile habitat. In 2003 the Ponoholo Ranch, which encompasses the Hawaiian tree snail’s habitat, entered the Kohala Watershed Partnership, which resulted in fencing being built along three sides of the ranch to exclude wild cattle, while plans were made to cull wild pigs and remove invasive weeds. The Nature Conservancy has also agreed a 15-year management plan with the ranch, with the development of a management plan for the Hawaiian tree snail a key priority (4). This vulnerable species is also benefiting from a captive breeding facility coordinated by the University of Hawaii on Lanai (5). With the successful implementation of these measures, and further efforts to remove predators and limit habitat loss, there is significant hope that the future of the Endangered Hawaiian tree snail will be secured (1).Top
Find out more
For more information on the conservation of the Hawaiian tree snail, see:
The Nature Conservancy:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
- Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
- Concerned with the sense of smell.
IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
- Solem, A. (1990) How many Hawaiian land snail species are left? And what can we do for them? Bishop Museum Occasional Papers, 30: 27-40.
- Barnes, R.D. (1987) Invertebrate Zoology. Saunders College Publishing, London.
The Nature Conservancy (April, 2010)
NatureServe Explorer (April, 2010)
- Hadfield, M.G., Miller, S.E. and Carwile, A.H. (1993) The decimation of endemic Hawaiian tree snails by alien predators. American Zoologist, 33: 610-622.
- Holland, B.S. and Hadfield, M.G. (2004) Origin and diversification of the endemic Hawaiian tree snails (Achatinellidae: Achatinellinae) based on molecular evidence. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 32: 588-600.
US Fish and Wildlife Service (April, 2010)
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.