Role of Onychophora for conservation

Epiperipatus acacioi
Specimen of Epiperipatus acacioi from Brazil

In the last century, several onychophoran species have become endangered or even extinct [1–4]. So far, eleven species have been included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which highlights the need of protection for some onychophoran species and their habitats. The establishment of a nature reserve in Brazil (Estação Ecológica do Tripuí; COPAM 003/78), based on the restricted distribution of the onychophoran species Epiperipatus acacioi, is one of the rare examples worldwide, in which a nature reserve was established based on a single invertebrate species. Although the remarkable point endemism of onychophorans [5, 6] suggests that they are suitable as flagship species for conservation, insufficient knowledge of their taxonomy, diversity and phylogenetic relationships makes it difficult to estimate the real impact of this animal group on conservation biology.

Onychophoran species in the IUCN Red List


Macroperipatus insularis
Mesoperipatus tholloni
Plicatoperipatus jamaicensis
Speleoperipatus spelaeus


Opisthopatus roseus
Peripatoides indigo
Peripatoides suteri
Peripatopsis alba
Peripatopsis clavigera
Peripatopsis leonina
Tasmanipatus anophthalmus


1. Brinck (1957) In: South African Animal Life. 4:7–32.
2. Jackson & Taylor (1994) Threatened Fauna Manual. Tasmania, Australia.
3. Hamer et al. (1997) Ann. Nat. Mus. 38:283–312.
4. Oliveira et al. (2015) Syst. Biodivers. 13:211–233.
5. Oliveira et al. (2011) PLoS ONE  6(6), e19973.
6. Oliveira et al. (2012) ZooKeys 211:1–70.