Tag Archives: Raiatea

Succinea pallida Pfeiffer

Pallid Amber Snail (Succinea pallida)

The Pallid Amber Snail was confined to the sister islands of Ra’iatea and Taha’a, where it was historically very abundant and could be found on any moist places on the ground.

The species, which was described in 1847, is now extinct.

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Land and Freshwater Snails of Tahiti and the other Society Islands. Phelsuma Press, Cambridge 2017

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edited: 26.11.2018

Acrocephalus musae ssp. musae (J. R. Forster)

Raiatea Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus musae ssp. musae)

The Raiatea Reed Warbler was first collected in 1773 during James Cook’s second expedition into the South Sea, it was described in 1844.

The bird was depicted by Georg Forster (see below).

The species was collected again in the 1870s but apparently disappeared sometimes later because it was not found by the famous WSSE (Whitney South Sea Expedition) in 1922. Today only a single specimen remains in the collection of the ‘Übersee-Museum’ in Bremen, Germany

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References:

[1] Alice Cibois; Jean-Claude Thibault; Eric Pasquet: Systematics of the extinct reed warblers Acrocephalus of the Society Islands of eastern Polynesia. Ibis 150: 365–376. 2008

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Depiction: Georg Forster; between 1772 and 1775

(public domain)

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edited: 21.01.2019

Partula faba ssp. faba (Gmelin)

Bean-shaped Tree-Snail (Partula faba ssp. faba)

The Bean-shaped Tree-Snail was described in 1791, being the first species of its genus to be described.

The species inhabited the sister islands of Ra’iatea and Taha’a, Society Islands, with both islands harbouring an endemic subspecies respectively. It was extremely abundand in former times and was found everywhere on the islands from the sea level to the highest peaks.

The great variability of the shell coloration led to the description of various ‘varieties’. [1]

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The Bean-shaped Tree-Snail was heavily declining in the 1990s after the Rosy Wolf-Snail (Euglandina sp.) had been introduced to and established on the island. 

In an effort to save this species from extinction as much as 89 individuals were collected in 1991 and brought into captivity to be bred. One year later, in 1992, one last surviving individual was found and collected in the Vaiapu Valley, another 65 individuals were found and collected on the Temehani Plateau also to be brought into captivity – this was the last time the species was ever seen in the wild.

These last known individuals did well in captivity and even readily produced offspring and the future prospects for the this partulid species appeared to be good, however, the individuals born in captivity did not produce that much offspring, and the following generations finally produced none at all and the number of individuals dwindled. 

The last surviving individuals were kept in several Zoos in Great Britain, including the Zoos of Bristol and London, but the number still dropped and dropped to only two remaining individuals in 2015. These last two survivors of their species were finally brought to the Zoo of Edinburgh, who had the greatest experiences with breeeding endangered partulid snails, however, this was unsuccessful.

The very last individual finally died today, February 21th, 2016, making it the 34th partulid species to have become extinct within the last 20 years. [1] 

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016

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Photo: Naturalis Biodiversity Center  
https://www.naturalis.nl

(no copyright)  

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edited: 29.04.2019

Partula dentifera ssp. imperforata (Garrett)

Unperforated Tree-Snail (Partula dentifera ssp. imperforata)  

This form was described in 1884, originally as a distinct species.  

The Unperforated Tree-Snail was endemic to the island of Ra’iatea, Society Islands, where it inhabited the Mt. Tefatua, as well as many of the smaller valleys on the western side of the island at elevations from sea-level to about 700 m.  

This form differs from the nominate form by several characters, for example by its narrower umbilicus, which sometimes is fully closed. [1]  

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The Unperforated Tree-Snail, like all its congeners from the lowland areas of Ra’iatea, is now extinct.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’

(public domain) 

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edited: 21.10.2017

Partula dolorosa Crampton & Cooke

Temehani Tree-Snail (Partula dolorosa)  

This species was described in 1953.  

The Temehani Tree-Snail was endemic to the island of Ra’iatea, Society Islands, where it was apparently restricted to the Temehani Plateau.  

The species was arboreal and was usually found sitting on the leaves of native screw pines (Pandanus spp.). [1]  

***

The Temehani Tree-Snail appears to have been found in 1992 for the last time, and is extinct since.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 21.10.2017

Partula dentifera ssp. callifera (Pfeiffer)

Callus-carrying Tree-Snail (Partula dentifera ssp. callifera)  

This form was described in 1856, originally as a distinct species.  

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The following citation about this species in life is from Andrew Garrett.:  

A well-characterized species, restricted to the higher portion of Haamoa valley, on the east coast of Raiatea, where it is not uncommon on foliage. It may be easily determined by its creamy white color, yellow apex, constant parietal tooth, inflated body-whorl, oval or rounded “key-hole” aperture, conspicuous labial tooth and the total absence of epidermis in the adult shells. It is never banded.” [1]  

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The shells reached a height of 1,7 to 2,1 cm, they differed from the nominate race in several characters, for example in being more ovate, having an inflated body-whorl and a more open umbilicus. [2]  

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The species died out for the same reasons as all the other extinct Polynesian tree-snail species.  

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References:  

[1] Andrew Garrett: The terrestrial Mollusca inhabiting the Society Islands. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1884 
[2] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’

(public domain) 

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edited: 21.10.2017

Aplonis ulietensis (Gmelin)

Ulieta Starling (Aplonis ulietensis)  

The Ulieta Starling, better known as Bay Thrush or Ulieta Thrush, is still one of the biggest mysteries of the ornithological world.  

The species is known only on the basis of a drawing which was produced by Georg Forster in 1774 (?), as well as from the appertaining description.  

The bird was originally – under reserve – described as thrush (Turdidae), but was subsequently associated with the Honeyeater family (Meliphagidae).  

Actually, it may have been a starling, because very similar starling species are well known to occur / have occurred on other, adjacent islands within Central Polynesia (only a single species, the Rarotonga Starling (Aplonis cinerascens Hartlaub & Finsch), is extant), while the other two bird families are not known from that geographical region, neither from historical specimens nor by subfossil remains.  

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The Ulieta Starling died out sometimes during the 18th century – or – did it survive until the 19th century?  

Some of the land birds which inhabit the more interior and elevated woods have a varied and gaudy plumage; while others, with a more sombre garment, possess a melodious voice, not unlike that of our thrush or blackbird; but neither kind is sufficiently numerous to repay the exertions of the sportsman or ornithologist.” [1]

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References:  

[1] Frederick Debell Bennett: Narrative of a Whaling Voyage round the globe, from the year 1833 to 1836. Comprising Sketches of Polynesia, California, the Indian Archipelago, etc. with an account of southern whales, the sperm whale fishery, and the natural history of the climates visited. London, Richard Bentley 1840 
[2] Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986 
[3] Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987  

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Depiction: Georg Forster, 1774

(public domain)

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edited: 18.10.2020

Partula garretti Pease

Garrett’s Tree-Snail (Partula garretti 

Garrett’s Tree-Snail was described in 1865, it includes three subspecies of which the nominate, discussed here, was restricted to the central range of northeastern Ra’iatea, Society Islands.

The species, like all Raiatean partulid species, is extinct. [1]

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’ 

(public domain)

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edited: 30.04.2019

Mautodontha consimilis (Pease)

Raiatean Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha consimilis)

This species was described in 1868; it is endemic to the island of Ra’iatea in the Society archipelago.

The shells reach sizes of up to 0,4 cm in diameter; they are light yellowish horn-colored with regularly spaced zigzag-shaped, reddish flammulations that become less prominent on the base of the shell. [1]

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976

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edited: 13.03.2021

Partula cuneata Crampton

Wedge-shaped Tree-Snail (Partula cuneata)  

The Wedge-shaped Tree-Snail was described in 1956.  

The species was endemic to the island of Ra’iatea, Society islands, where it was restricted to the Ere’eo Valley on the west coast of the island, which it shared with five additional tree-snail species – all of them now extinct. [1][2]

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References:

[1] Henry E. Crampton: New Species of Land Snails of the Genus Partula from Raiatea, Society Islands. American Museum Novitates 1761: 1-17. 1956
[2] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016

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edited: 30.04.2019

Partula levistriata Crampton

Striated Tree-Snail (Partula levistriata 

This arboreal species was described in 1956.  

The Striated Tree-Snail is apparently known from a single specimen that was collected in the Ereeo valley, where it lived sympatrically with another tree snail species that is now extinct, the Cuneate Tree-Snail (Partula cuneata Crampton.).  

The shell was yellowish corneous and was decorated with irregularly spaced transverse strigations of warm brown. The lip was white and shining. [1]  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 18.10.2017