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
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Bathurst Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001i) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005p) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan for Reduction in Impacts of Tramp Ants on Biodiversity in Australia and its Territories (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006p) [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
NSW:Bathurst Copper Butterfly - endangered species listing. NSW Scientific Committee - final determination (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 1996b) [Internet].
NSW:Purple Copper Butterfly (Bathurst Copper Butterfly) - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005ih) [Internet].
NSW:Purple Copper Butterfly (Bathurst Copper Butterfly) General fact Sheet (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2008g) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines - Bathurst Copper Butterfly (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001o) [Internet].
NSW:Bathurst Copper Butterfly Threatened Species Information (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001p) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Paralucia spinifera [26335]
Family Lycaenidae:Lepidoptera:Insecta:Arthropoda:Animalia
Species author E.D. Edwards and Common, 1978
Infraspecies author  
Reference ANZECC Threatened Fauna List May 2000
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: Paralucia spinifera

Common name: Bathurst Copper Butterfly

Other names: Purple Copper Butterfly, Bathurst Copper, Bathurst Copper Wing, Bathurst-Lithgow Copper, Purple Copper

The Bathurst Copper Butterfly is a small butterfly with a thick body and a wingspan of 2–3 cm. Males of the species are shiny purple in colour and females are dark brown with some bronze and purple patches. Both sexes display some small blue spots, black veins and wings fringed with black and white. Its black antennae are dotted with white spots, and terminate with a black tip. The underside of this species is grey-brown with dark brown bands and spots edged with white (Braby 2000).

The Bathurst Copper Butterfly is found in an area of the Central Tablelands of New South Wales between Oberon, Hartley and Bathurst. All of the known sites occur within the Evans Shire and Lithgow City Local Government areas. The distribution of this species is limited by elevation with all known sites being above 900 m (NSW NPWS 2001i).

In 2001, this species was found at 29 sites throughout the Blue Mountains region of New South Wales (CSIRO 2002). Fourteen of these sites occur on privately owned land, the remaining sites occur on land managed by either Local, State or Commonwealth government departments (NSW NPWS 2001i).

In 2004 a population was found near Lidsdale, north-west of Lithgow in a proposed road realignment. This population was relocated into suitable habitat and restored habitat close by (Mjadwesch & Nally 2008).

In 2003, there were reportedly 35 sites located in two main areas in eastern Bathurst at Yetholme and Lithgow, covering 48 km. An additional population approximately 30 km south-west of Oberon was discoverred in 2003, thus significantly extending the known range. It is possible that additional locations will be identified, and these may lie outside the currently known distribution (NSW NPWS 2003).

In excess of 25 days were spent on ground surveys for potential habitat and checking for presence of P. spinifera as part of the Recovery Plan implementation. This work was focussed towards identifying habitat that may form links between the subpopulations in the Lidsdale State Forest and the new site at Mt David. Surveys were also caried out at Oberon, Capertee, Cullen Bullen, Portland, Kanimbal Valley, Hartley, Rockley, Bathurst and Wallerawang. Potential habitat was visited at least once under suitable conditions during the flying season (NPWS 2002).

A survey conducted by a consultant as part of an environmental assessment for a proposed quarry resulted in two new sites being discovered, extending the Lidsdale State Forest group (NPWS 2002).

Current survey efforts involve using microsatellite RAPD and DNA sequence information to investigate levels of genetic diversity and population structure within and among remaining populations (CSIRO 2002).

There has been no systematic monitoring of Bathurst Copper Butterfly sites. Assessments at two sites indicated adult counts of 2800 and 4500 over one particular flight season (Dexter & Kitching 1991a). In recent seasons only a handful of butterflies have been observed at one of these sites. Large fluctuations in numbers have been observed at some locations. For some years they may not be detected then they re-appear, sometimes with large adult densities (Sands & New 2002). The lack of systematic population monitoring coupled with these population dynamics make it very dificult to determine true trends (NSW NPWS 2003).

This species was first discovered in 1964 when a single female specimen was collected near Yetholme, east of Bathurst. It was not seen again until it was rediscovered in 1977, before finally described as a new species in 1978. No specimens from the type locality have been observed for some years and it is now believed to be extinct in this locality (CSIRO 2002).

The Bathurst Copper Butterfly is only known to occur in areas above 900 m and where native Blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa subsp. lasiophylla) occurs. Most population sites are also exposed to full sun for a large portion of the day (Cayzer et al. 1999; CSIRO 2002).

Besides the native Blackthorn, other flora species that predominate on all sites are Wattle Mat-Rush (Lomandra filiformis subsp. filiformis), Snowgrass (Poa sieberiana var. sieberiana), and Silvertop Wallaby Grass (Joycea pallida). High proportions of weed species are also found at the sites from which this species is known. The most common are Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris), Smooth Catsear (Hypochaeris glabra), Dandelion (Taraaxacum officinale) and the Blackberry species aggregate (Rubus fruticosus) (NSW NPWS 2001i).

The vegetation structure is typically open woodland although open forests occur at butterfly sites on the basaltic soils around Yetholme (NSW NPWS 2003). The two-layered understorey comprises tall shrubs (including the Native Blackthorn) in the higher stratum and tussock grasses and scattered low shrubs in the lower stratum. There is usually a ground cover of mixed low grasses and herbaceous species, occasionally including Native Blackthorn seedlings. A common factor between all sites is that almost all are associated with high levels of disturbance such as mining, roadways and frequent fire (NSW NPWS 2001i).

As the Bathurst Copper Butterfly will often emerge from pupation in late winter and early spring, shading of native Blackthorn by vegetation can affect the Bathurst Copper Butterfly, through blocking the full sun in which individuals 'soak' in order to reach temperatures required for physical activity (Mjadwesch & Nally 2008).


The Bathurst Copper Butterfly has a mutualistic relationship with the ant, Anonychomyrma itinerans. This mutualistic relationship is thought to offer the larvae some protection from predators while they feed. In return the ants receive nutritional secretions (CSIRO 2002; Dexter & Kitching 1991a). The pupae of the butterfly are also protected as they pupate underground within the nests of Anonychomyrma itinerans (CSIRO 2002). One other ant species has been seen to attend the Bathurst Copper Butterfly caterpillar, a Crematogaster sp., at Winburndale Nature Reserve (Mjadwesch & Nally 2008).

Anonychomyrma itinerans has a wider distribution than the butterfly but is also only found above 900 m (Dexter & Kitching 1991b).

After mating, a female will deposit one to five eggs on leaves or debris towards the base of the host plant, B. spinosa subsp. lasiophylla (CSIRO 2002; Dexter & Kitching 1991a). The eggs take around 14–17 days to hatch (Dunn et al. 1994).

On hatching, larvae are attended by an ant species, A. itinerans. Larvae are diurnal (active during the day) until the fourth instar (the stage between each moult in larvae) at which point both the larvae and the ant become nocturnal (Dexter & Kitching 1991a). The larvae graze on the host plant and since they will not traverse open ground, closely spaced plants with intertwining branches offer the best habitat for larvae (NSW NPWS 2001i).

Pupation occurs from late December to late February and takes place in the ant's nest at the base of the host plant (Dunn et al. 1994). The pupae remain there until the following spring (NSW NPWS 2001).

The butterfly emerges from pupation from early August and is on the wing until at least early November. Although the timing of activity varies across the species range there appears to be a peak of activity for a couple of weeks in September for most sites (NSW NPWS 2001i).

Adult butterflies fly between August and November depending on the elevation and aspect of the site (CSIRO 2002). The males fly rapidly at about 1 m from the ground and rest with wings parted in sites exposed to full sun. The females fly less rapidly and tend to remain nearer to the host plant (Edwards & Common 1978). The Bathurst Copper Butterfly generally remains in the vicinity of the plant and are rarely observed more than 10 m distant from the habitat (NSW NPWS 2003).

All stages are subject to natural mortality and for immature stages this is probably in the order of 70% or higher (Sands unpublished, cited in NSWNPWS 2001i).

The relationships between the butterfly, ant and host plant are not completely understood, but it is thought to be highly significant. Even though it is sometimes difficult to detect, A. itinerans has been recorded at almost all of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly locations. Similarly, B. spinosa lasiophylla is present at all locations of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly.


The larval food plant of the butterfly is its host plant, Bursaria spinosa subsp. lasiophylla, the native Blackthorn. This plant is often found in a suppressed or juvenile form within the range of the butterfly. It is unclear whether grazing by butterfly larvae is responsible for this (NSW NPWS 2001i).

Bathurst Copper Butterflies generally remain within the vicinity of the host plant and are rarely observed beyond 10 m of the habitat (NSW NPWS 2001i).

Many of the current populations of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly are small and isolated which increases their vulnerability. The main threatening processes are from habitat fragmentation and disturbances including overgrazing, weed invasion and inappropriate fire management (CSIRO 2002).

Low level grazing can maintain an open sunny site where the host plant thrives. Heavy grazing, however, can damage butterfly habitat (Dexter & Kitching 1991a). Grazing can also lead to the loss of the attendant ant species. The decline of the butterfly has been correlated with the disappearance of the attendant ant (NSW NPWS 2001i). Grazing induced changes to soil characteristics such as compaction, erosion or nutrient status can also exclude the attendant ant (Dexter & Kitching 1991a,b).

Weeds have been identified as a problem at 10 out of 29 surveyed sites. Weeds such as Broom (Cytisus scopariuos) and Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) compete with the native Blackthorn. Radiata Pine wildings (Pinus radiata) threaten to shade out habitat. Lesser weeds include Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Sweet Briar (Rosa rubiginosa) and Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) (NSW NPWS 2001i).

The exclusion of fires is considered a threat at sites where other disturbance regimes do not encourage the regeneration of the host plant. Timing of fires is crucial with fires during summer being potentially too destructive and fires from July to February potentially killing larvae and eggs (NSW NPWS 2001i).

Other lesser threats include dust from road traffic which appears to be making some host plants at some sites unusable (NSW NPWS 2001i) and firewood collection (dead and fallen timber has been shown to be important to some ant species) (Britton et al. 1995). As a result it would be precautionary to discourage the removal of such timber from known butterfly sites on crown land. Feral pigs have been identified as a threat to Native Blackthorn at one site (NSW NPWS 2001i). Feral goats have also been identified as a threat because they may graze the host plant (Kitching & Baker 1990).

The sedentary nature of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly indicates it has a low dispersal capability, hence it is unlikely to colonise new areas after its habitat has been destroyed. The species' reliance on A. itinerans, and B. spinosa lasiophylla means that factors affecting those species also affect the Bathurst Copper Butterfly (NSW NPWS 2003). The rarity of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly makes it attractive to collectors, and collection is thought to have contributed to population decline at one site (Dexter & Kitching 1991a) though Sands and New (2002) did not conclude the number of specimens taken would have affected the population.

Recent genetic analysis of Bathurst Copper Butterfly populations showed a relatively high level of genetic diversity within the populations. This suggests few, if any, genetic concerns for the species at this stage. At this point in time there would appear to be no need, from a genetic viewpoint, either to increase population sizes or genetic diversity, through translocation of individuals between populations (Clarke & Grosse 2003).

The following projects have received Government funding grants for conservation and recovery work benefiting the Bathurst Copper Butterfly:

The Lithgow and District Community Nursery (NSW) received $8285 through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2002–03 for establishment of a long-term co-operative approach to involving industry, community and government agencies in the rehabilitation and expansion of Bathurst Copper Butterfly habitat in Lithgow.

Friends of the Purple Copper Butterfly received $16 136 of funding through the Threatened Species Network Community Grants in 2007–08 for habitat restoration and fire research.

The Bathurst Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) Recovery Plan (NSW NPWS 2001i) outlines threat abatement actions.

The Action Plan for Australian Butterflies (Sands & New 2002) also provided management actions and recovery objectives for the Bathurst Copper Butterfly.

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:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Nomination for the Register of the National Estate (Dexter, E.M. and R.L. Kitching, 1991a) [Report].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification with associated erosion Nomination for the Register of the National Estate (Dexter, E.M. and R.L. Kitching, 1991a) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Cytisus scoparius (Broom, English Broom, Scotch Broom, Common Broom, Scottish Broom, Spanish Broom) Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Rosa rubiginosa (Sweet Briar, Briar Rose, Sweet Briar Rose, Eglantine) Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Pinus radiata (Radiata Pine Monterey Pine, Insignis Pine, Wilding Pine) Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Rubus fruticosus aggregate (Blackberry, European Blackberry) Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Capra hircus (Goat) The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Hello, Goodbye. Australian Geographic. 12(2):92-95. (Kitching, R.L. and E.J. Baker, 1990) [Journal].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].
The threat posed by pest animals to biodiversity in New South Wales (Coutts-Smith, A.J., P.S. Mahon, M. Letnic & P.O. Downey, 2007) [Management Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Gammon Ranges National Park: Flora and Fauna Survey, and Vegetation Monitoring, 1993-1995 (Baulderstone, C.S., H. Owens, M.L. Possingham & H.P. Possingham, 1999) [Report].

Braby, M.F. (2000). Butterflies of Australia. Canberra: CSIRO.

Britton, D.R., T.R. New and A. Jelinek (1995). Rare Lepidoptera at Mount Piper, Victoria - the role of a threatened butterfly community in advancing understanding of insect conservation. Journal of Lepidopterists' Society. 49(2):97-113.

Cayzer, L.W., M.D. Crisp and I.R.H. Telford (1999). Bursaria (Pittosporaceae): A Morphometric Analysis and Revision. Australian Systematic Botany. 12, no.1:117-143.

Clarke, G.M. & S.P. Grosse (2003). Genetic analysis of populations of the Bathurst Copper Butterfly, Paralucia spinifera. Canberra: CSIRO, Entomology.

CSIRO (2002). Conservation Genetics of Paralucia spinifera, Bathurst Copper Butterfly. [Online]. www.ento.csiro.au/conservation/area_of_research/conservation_genetics/paralu.

Dexter, E.M. and R.L. Kitching (1991a). Nomination for the Register of the National Estate. Australian Heritage Commision.

Dexter, E.M. and R.L. Kitching (1991b). The Bathurst Copperwing, Paralucia spinifera Edwards and Common. The Conservation Bilogy of Lycaenidae (Butterflies) Ed T. New Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. 8.

Dunn, K.L., R.L. Kitching and E.M. Dexter (1994). The Conservation Status of Australian Butterflies. Unpublished report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Kitching, R.L. and E.J. Baker (1990). Hello, Goodbye. Australian Geographic. 12(2):92-95.

Mjadwesch, R. and S. Nally (2008). Emergency relocation of a Purple Copper Butterfly colony during roadworks: Successes and lessons learned. Ecological Management and Restoration. 9(2).

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2001i). Bathurst Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) Recovery Plan. [Online]. NSW NPWS. Hurstville: NSW NPWS. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/copper-butterfly/index.html.

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2002). Purple Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) Recovery Plan Implementation Annual Report, Hurstville NSW.

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2003). Bathurst Copper Butterfly Paralucia spinifera Information Sheet. [Online]. Available from: http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?.

Sands, D.P.A. & T.R. New (2002). The action plan for Australian butterflies. [Online]. Environment Australia, Canberra. www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/action/butterfly/pubs/butterflies.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). Paralucia spinifera in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:06:03 +1000.