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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Asplenium listeri (Christmas Island Spleenwort) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002h) [Listing Advice].
 
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 National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
 
Information Sheets Final Report of the Christmas Island Expert Working Group to the Minister for the Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010a) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (04/07/2002) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002b) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Scientific name Asplenium listeri [65865]
Family Aspleniaceae:Aspidiales:Polypodiatae:Polypodiophyta:Plantae
Species author C.Chr.
Infraspecies author  
Reference Index Filicum 118 (1906).
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: Asplenium listeri

Common Name: Christmas Island Spleenwort

There is some speculation that the Christmas Island Spleenwort is a variant of Asplenium polyodon (Sicklefern) that has become specialised at living in rock crevices (Reddell pers. comm. in Butz 2004), but this has not yet been investigated.

Christmas Island Spleenwort is a lithophytic fern. It has short erect fronds, 3.5–9 cm long, which grow in a crown (DuPuy 1993ai).

The Christmas Island Spleenwort is found only on Christmas Island (Butz 2004).

This species has an extent of occurrence of less than 100 km² (Holmes & Holmes 2002).

The Christmas Island Spleenwort occurs in only one location (Christmas Island) but is found there as five separate subpopulations (Butz 2004).

This species' distribution may be considered as highly fragmented as it occurs only in relatively small and isolated subpopulations.

Holmes and Holmes (2002) conducted a survey of the Christmas Island flora and mapped the occurrence of this species. They documented four subpopulations of the Christmas Island Spleenwort.

The total population size of the Christmas Island Spleenwort is less than 300 individual plants (Butz 2004).

The Christmas Island Spleenwort was originally collected from near Flying Fish Cove in 1887, but it has not been found there since 1906 (Du Puy 1993ai; GHD Pty. Ltd. 2003). The species is currently found as five separate subpopulations, occurring at Gannet Hill, Margaret Knoll, Greta Beach Road, Aldrich Hill, and Sydney's Dale (Butz 2004; GHD Pty. Ltd. 2003; Holmes & Holmes 2002).

The population trend for this species is not known. The estimated population size has increased since 2002 due to new populations being discovered, but it is not known whether the actual population size is increasing. Butz (2004) notes that the Christmas Island Spleenwort can easily remain undetected in its favoured habitat.

Given the small population size of this species, all subpopulations are necessary for its long-term survival.

Three of the five subpopulations occur with in the Christmas Island National Park. These are the Gannet Hill, Aldrich Hill and Sydney's Dale populations (Butz 2004).

The Christmas Island Spleenwort occurs in limestone rock crevices in dry, exposed areas on Christmas Island. It is found in rocky, narrow areas of inland cliff-top, between forest and an open aspect on the seaward side. It grows in shaded areas, mainly in association with Ficus microcarpa. The Christmas Island Spleenwort grows at 110–255 m above sea level (Butz 2004; Holmes & Holmes 2002).

No current actual threats have been identified for the Christmas Island Spleenwort, however, some potential threats have been evaluated.

Construction and mining activities both occur on Christmas Island. However, the Christmas Island Spleenwort's distribution (exposed cliff-tops) makes it unlikely that the species will be threatened by mining activities. It is also unlikely that any potential habitat for this species has been affected by mining in the past (Butz 2004). No proposed construction works have been identified as threatening the survival of the Christmas Island Spleenwort, but widening or modification of the Greta Beach Road could threaten one of the populations (Butz 2004).

There are a number of pest plant species established on Christmas Island (Hyder Consulting 2008), but Holmes and Holmes (2002) state that the Christmas Island Spleenwort is not threatened by weeds. They note that the species may be vulnerable to episodic changes in the canopy density and encroachment by shrubbery.

The Christmas Island Spleenwort is not known to be threatened by any introduced animals, but may potentially be at risk form the introduced Giant African Snail (Achatina fulica). The snail feeds on plant matter and may take refuge in habitat favoured by the Christmas Island Spleenwort. It is not known what impact, if any, this snail has had on the Christmas Island Spleenwort (Butz 2004).

There is no evidence that the Christmas Island Spleenwort is being illegally collected, but other members of the same genus are known to be valued for cultivation. Illegal collection is predicted to be a serious threat to the survival of this species if it occurs (Butz 2004).


Christmas Island is known to experience cyclones an average rate of one every five years (BoM 2006). Cyclones could damage the Christmas Island Spleenwort, especially since the species' favoured habitat is in exposed sites.

The National Recovery Plan (Butz 2004) for the Christmas Island Spleenwort has three objectives for the recovery of this species: increase population numbers of the plant, improve knowledge of the factors restricting the species' distribution, and abate and avert threats to the species. Abating threats to the Christmas Island Spleenwort primarily involves protecting the species' habitat, as there are no identified threats that impact on the species directly.

Principles relevant to the conservation of the Christmas Island Spleenwort can be found in the Christmas Island National Park Management Plan (Environment Australia 2002i). This Plan states that the National Park should be managed to preserve its natural condition.

A National Recovery Plan has been developed for the Christmas Island Spleenwort (Butz 2004).

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
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Illegal collection National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
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 National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on Asplenium listeri (Christmas Island Spleenwort) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002h) [Listing Advice].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri (Butz, M., 2004) [Recovery Plan].

Bureau of Meterology (BoM) (2006). Tropical Cyclones Affecting the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island. [Online]. Available from: http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/wa/cyclone/about/cocos/index.shtml#Christmas.

Butz, M. (2004). National recovery plan for the Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri. [Online]. Department of the Environment and Heritage. Canberra, Commonwelath of Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/a-listeri/index.html.

Du Puy, D.J. (1993ai). Aspleniaceae. In: Flora of Australia: Oceanic Islands. 50:554-558. Canberra: AGPS.

Environment Australia (2002i). Christmas Island National Park Management Plan. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia.

GHD Pty Ltd (2003). Christmas Island - Airport Upgrade, Environmental Impact Statement. [Online]. Available from: http://www.dotrs.gov.au/terr/xmas/Airport_upgrade/airport_upgrade_ExecSumm.aspx.

Holmes, J. & G. Holmes (2002). Conservation Status of the Flora of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean.

Hyder Consulting (2008). The Impacts and Management Implications of Climate Change for the Australian Government's Protected Areas. [Online]. Department of Climate Change. Available from: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/impacts/publications/pubs/protected-areas.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). Asplenium listeri in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:04:23 +1000.