Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (Environment Australia (EA), 1999b) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits (Environment Australia (EA), 1999c) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
SA:Microlepidium alatum (J.Black) E.Shaw; Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet (Plant Biodiversity Centre, 2001) [Internet].
SA:Draft recovery plan for 23 threatened flora taxa on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 2007-2012 (Pobke, K., 2007) [State Recovery Plan].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list)
Scientific name Microlepidium alatum [13711]
Family Brassicaceae:Capparales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (J.Black) E.Shaw
Infraspecies author  
Reference Contributions from the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University 205 (1 Apr. 1974) 159.
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific Name: Microlepidium alatum

The species has previously been referred to as Hymenolobus alatus (TSSC 2008aaa).

Microlepidium alatum is a small, rigid, glabrous annual herb growing to approximately 20 cm in height. Growth form is variable and related to rainfall, but individuals range from stout to rigid, and spreading to erect and are rarely branched. Basal (at the base) and cauline (at the upper part of the stem) leaves are obovate, with the former growing to 2 cm in length, and latter growing to 1.5 cm. The flowers themselves are small and petal-less, eventually becoming small winged fruit around 4–5.5 mm in length and containing broadly ellipsoid seeds 0.8–1 mm in length (SA DEH 2007a; TSSC 2008aaa).

The species grows in protected sites in semi-arid regions. It is known from the Eyre Peninsula within the latitude 31°16'52"S to longitude 131°29'59"E and latitude 33°3'27"S to longitude 135°28'13"E, and its extent of occurrence is approximately 7300 km². Microlepidium alatum is also known from road reserves within Ceduna and Le Hunte and from the County of Hopetoun. The total area of occupancy for the species is 0.07km² (TSSC 2008aaa).

Historically, Microlepidium alatum is known from records in Western Australia and Victoria (SA DEH 2007a).

There are approximately 1000 Microlepidium alatum individuals from seven subpopulations in total, however, these remain estimates. The number of subpopulations is based on past sightings, and the true number of subpopulations will depend on distance and isolation between the populations and the viability of the populations themselves (TSSC 2008aaa).

There is one subpopulation in Fowlers Bay Conservation Park and an unknown number of subpopulations in Yellabinna Regional Reserve (TSSC 2008aaa).

Microlepidium alatum grows in protected areas (often moss beds) usually located on the southern, shaded side of vegetation. The soil has been described, from a subpopulation on Eyre Peninsula, as light brown-white sandy loam over sheet limestone (TSSC 2008aaa).

The species occupies topography of 60–110 m above sea level, and it is known to inhabit the 400–500 mm rainfall zone. Microlepidium alatum habitat is semi-arid in Dryland Tea Tree (Melaleuca lanceolata) open woodland with mixed Chenopod and Eremophila sp. shrubland (TSSC 2008aaa).

Flowering, which is rainfall dependent, usually occurs during August and September (SA DEH 2007a; TSSC 2008aaa).

During the 2001 field season, plants were found to average 3–5 cm in height. Extreme care must therefore be taken during surveys in order to identify all individuals (TSSC 2008aaa).

Low Genetic Diversity

One of the major threats to Microlepidium alatum is reduction in its resilience to environmental changes, pests or disease due to low genetic variability and gene flow, due to small population size. All subpopulations are affected, and this leads to an overall decrease in viability of the species. The expected effect is possible eventual extinction (TSSC 2008aaa).

Weed Invasion

Another threat to Microlepidium alatum is out-competition and/or change to site specific habitat (critical to survival) due to weed invasion. In addition, loss of nutrients and space appears to be occurring at all sites. Species, such as Wards Weed (Carrichtera annua), Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides), African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) and weedy grasses, are all suspected as being highly probable invaders of Microlepidium alatum habitat. Weeds are suspected to have outcompeted the small herb, decreased the establishment of new plants and the viability of older ones. The expected effect is also possible eventual extinction (TSSC 2008aaa).

Inappropriate Disturbance Regimes

Localized extinction and degradation of the species' critical habitat from inappropriate disturbance regimes are thought to occur at all sites. The disturbance of moss by vehicles and stock trampling is believed to be having a deleterious effect on the reproductive success of Microlepidium alatum by modifying its micro-habitat hence making it unsuitable for colonization (TSSC 2008aaa).

Grazing

High grazing pressure is also a possible threat, causing the loss of Microlepidium alatum plants and seed source. While there is no evidence on the extent of grazing pressure that is likely to represent an impact, all populations cumulatively exposed to stock, feral and native herbivores are likely to be adversely affected. As the herb is palatable to the animals, it is likely that the species would be consumed. If the species remains unprotected from grazing pressure, it could lead to the extinction of the already fragmented species (TSSC 2008aaa).

Road Maintenance Activities

Roadside and easement work failing to comply with Environmental Best Practice (EBP) is also a potential threat to the species. If care is not taken with subpopulation sites (especially those lying on roadsides), physical disturbance could cause localized species extinction. Due to the small population size, all habitats and individuals are critical to the survival of the species. Therefore if EBP is not implemented, over time this could lead to a general decrease in species viability and possibly localized species extinction (TSSC 2008aaa).

Previous management actions aimed at the recovery of Microlepidium alatum include (TSSC 2008aaa):

  • Surveys undertaken to indentify historic locations of the species in Eyre Peninsula's far west detected populations at two of the historical locations.

Threats could be abated using the following techniques (in conjunction with the survey action) (TSSC 2008aaa):

  • Weed control
  • Fencing off of areas (to keep out stock and feral/native herbivores)
  • Ensure EBP is carried out appropriately and consistently on any areas that are either known to contain the species or are suitable habitat for the species
  • Possible breeding program
  • Research (monitoring program, assessment of microhabitat requirements, seed germination and/or vegetative propagation trials, assessment of current gene flow and identification of populations that would benefit from artificial introduction of genetic material, and the fire ecology of the species).

In 2007, a Draft Recovery Plan was developed for this species along with 22 other threatened flora taxa of the Eyre Peninsula (SA DEH 2007a).

Management documents for Microlepidium alatum can be found at the start of this profile. Other management documents relevant to the species include:

  • Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) weed management guide (DEH 2003e).
  • Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Goats (EA 1999a).
  • Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits (EA 1999b).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat alteration (vegetation, soil, hydrology) due to trampling and grazing by livestock Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Sea level rise:Inundation associated with climate change Inundation study (Environmental Resources Information Network, 2007) [Database].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Habitat disturbance from recreational vehicle use Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Lycium ferocissimum (African Boxthorn, Boxthorn) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Asparagus asparagoides (Bridal Creeper, Bridal Veil Creeper, Smilax, Florist's Smilax, Smilax Asparagus) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Negative impact from animals Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008aaa) [Conservation Advice].

Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) (2003e). Bridal creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) weed management guide. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/guidelines/wons/pubs/a-asparagoides.pdf.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999b). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/cats08.html.

Environment Australia (EA) (1999c). Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits. [Online]. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/rabbits08.html.

Plant Biodiversity Centre (2001). Microlepidium alatum (J.Black) E.Shaw; Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet. [Online]. Available from: http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/texhtml?form=speciesfacts&genus=Microlepidium&species=alatum.

South Australia Department for Environment and Heritage (SA DEH) (2007a). Draft Recovery Plan for 23 Threatened Flora Taxa on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/files/fccfccbf-d1a9-4ca3-840e-9e3701171854/Dft_EP_Thr_Fl_Rec_Plan_08Feb.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008aaa). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Microlepidium alatum. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/13711-conservation-advice.pdf.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Microlepidium alatum in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Tue, 2 Sep 2014 23:27:27 +1000.