Thursday, 31 May 2012

Critically endangered WA flora translocated to multiple locations

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Gcallflowers4The critically endangered Grevillea calliantha is being planted near Cataby as part of a translocation project. Image: DECCRITICALLY endangered WA flora is being translocated across the South West in a bid to prevent its extinction.

Seedlings of several threatened species are being planted in Cataby, Jurien Bay, Three Springs, Albany, Kojonup and Narrogin, as part of a Department of Environment and Conservation project.

With seeds collected, stored and propagated in the DEC Threatened Flora Seed Centre, species to be translocated include the feather-leaved banksia (Banksia brownii), Kamballup banksia (Banksia ionthocarpa subsp. Ionthocarpa), Stirling Range banksia (Banksia montana), mogumber bell (Darwinia carnea), Foote's grevillea (Grevillea calliantha), spreading grevillea (Grevillea humifusa), branched hemigenia (Hemigenia ramosissima), Stirling Range beard heath (Leucopogon gnaphalioides) and white featherflower (Verticordia albida).

Six other species have previously been translocated and are being followed up with a monitoring and maintenance program.

Research scientist Leonie Monks, from the DEC’s Flora Conservation and Herbarium Program, says some of the species consist of only a handful of individuals in the wild.

“In many cases, it takes several years before there are enough seeds in storage for us to be able to attempt the translocation and, even then, the seedlings may not survive,” she says.

“When we choose translocation sites for species we look for areas close to natural populations with similar habitats and climate, are without threats, and have long-term security.

“All are species where we have previously established new populations and, in some instances, they have been successful enough for us to expand the planting to a new location.

“In other cases, the new population has required further planting to ensure there are sufficient individuals for the population to become viable.”

To determine which species should planted as part of the project, Ms Monks says it was a matter of considering which threatened flora would most benefit from translocation.

“Usually, threatened species ranked as critically endangered are considered as the first priority because they’re likely to become extinct if we don’t implement management programs,” she says.

“There is a range of threats to these species, and it varies between them, including Phytophthora dieback disease, competition from weeds, grazing by introduced and native animals, previous clearing for agriculture and changes in fire regimes.

“These plants also all occur in low numbers and have extremely limited distributions.”

The project team’s previous work has shown that protecting the new plants from grazing is essential, along with watering them over their first, and sometimes second, summer. “Other factors that lead to translocation success or failure are being investigated as part of the planting program,” Ms Monks says.

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