Book of Hope Case Study: The Lord Howe Island phasmid, back from the brink

Date: 20, Aug, 2019
Author(s):   Hank Bower, Nicholas Carlile, Rohan Cleave, Chris Haselden, Dean Hiscox, Lisa O'Neill, Stephen Garnett, Peer Latch, David Lindenmayer, John Woinarski
Publisher: TSR Hub

The Lord Howe Island phasmid (Dryococelus australis), a shiny, black, heavy-bodied flightless stick insect that grows to 120 to 150 mm in length, was formerly common and widespread on Lord Howe Island. However, it was extirpated from the island in the 1930s following the accidental introduction of rats. For three decades it was thought to be extinct, until the unexpected discovery in the 1960s of evidence of its persistence on the unlikely refuge of Balls Pyramid, a 550m-high rock stack 23km offshore. A 2001 survey found a tiny population on a single rock ledge supporting melaleuca bushes, and it was listed as Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act.