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 as Epacris graniticola
Listing and Conservation Advices NON-CURRENT Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris sp. aff. virgata 'graniticola' (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2003d) [Listing Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
 
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009aq) [Conservation 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 Flora Recovery Plan: Threatened Tasmanian Forest Epacrids (Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE), 2011) [Recovery Plan] as Epacris graniticola.
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Department of the Environment, 2014a) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
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 (24/04/2003) (Mt Cameron Heath) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2003f) [Legislative Instrument] as Epacris graniticola.
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Epacris sp. Graniticola (A.Moscal 4210) R.Crowden.
 
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under Section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (80) (17/06/2009) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009j) [Legislative Instrument] as Epacris graniticola.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004 (Keith, D., 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
TAS:Threatened Species Notesheet - Epacris graniticola (Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIPWE), 2009d) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath, Granite Heath): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014fz) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list) as Epacris graniticola
Scientific name Epacris graniticola [82822]
Family Epacridaceae:Ericales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Crowden
Infraspecies author  
Reference Crowden, R.K. (2007) Additions to Epacris (Epacridoidae, Ericaceae) in Tasmania. Muelleria 25: 126, Figs 4 (map), 5 [tax. nov.]
Other names Epacris sp. aff. virgata graniticola [75600]
Epacris sp. aff. exserta (Mt Cameron) [65979]
Epacris sp. Graniticola (A.Moscal 4210) R.Crowden [82031]
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

Mt Cameron Heath is an erect to semi-prostrate multi-stemmed woody shrub. It grows to about 1.5 m in height, has distinctive wide-spreading branches, small hard leaves and solitary white flowers arranged in clusters at the ends of its branches (Keith 1997).

Mt Cameron Heath branches are divaricate and minutely hairy, bearing thick ovate-lanceolate convex leaves, 3–4.5 mm long and 2.5–3 mm wide with short stalks (< 1 mm long), an acute apex and a conspicuous mid-vein on the lower surface. Flowering occurs in spring. Flowers are white, solitary in the leaf axils, subsessile and clustered at the ends of branches. The style is 3.5–5 mm long; stigma and anthers are exserted from the corolla tube, which is 3–4 mm long and has five lobes 3.5–4 mm long. Fruits are capsules up to 2 mm long and enclosed within imbricate whorls of sepals and bracts until dehiscence (Keith 1997).

Mt Cameron Heath occurs in north-east Tasmania among hills on the Mt Cameron range (Cameron Regional Reserve), Mt Stronach (Mt Stronarch Forest Reserve) and south of Rossarden (Dalrymple Hill in the Castle Cary Regional Reserve) (TSSC 2009ap). This species occurs in eight well-separated subpopulations in the North Natural Resource Management Region.

Mt Cameron Heath has an estimated area of occurrence of 1200 km². This estimate is based on the minimum convex polygon encompassing extant subpopulations (TSSC 2009ap). The linear range of the species' distribution is 81 km (TSS 2006g).

Mt Cameron Heath has an estimated area of occupancy of 0.05–0.06 km². This estimate is based on quantitative estimates of the area of occupancy for the extant subpopulations (Keith 1997; TSSC 2009ap).

Since the early 1990s, there has been thorough botanical survey activity in potential habitat for Mt Cameron Heath (e.g. North et al. 1998). Targeted surveys for threatened Epacris were undertaken in the mid-1990s during development of the Tasmanian Forest Epacrids Recovery Plan (Keith 1997, 1997d), with additional surveys during the plan's implementation phase (1999–2004) (TSS 2006g). In 1998 six subpopulations were known (Keith 1997) and two have been recorded since (TSS 2006g).

The thorough survey effort and the species' specialised habitat requirements reduce the likelihood of Mt Cameron Heath being discovered outside its known extent of occurrence. However, there is potential for additional subpopulations being discovered in the vicinity of the southernmost subpopulation (the Castle Cary Regional Reserve area) (TSS 2006g).

Total Mt Cameron Heath population size is estimated to be 3000–40 000 mature individuals with a mean estimate of 20 000 plants (Keith 1997, 1997d; TSS 2006g). Some subpopulation size estimates from 1996 are considered conservative approximations (TSS 2006g).

Mt Cameron Heath is recorded from eight subpopulations; individual subpopulations have been presumed to be discrete patches separated by discontinuities of at least 1 km (Keith 2000). The following table presents subpopulation information for Mt Cameron Heath (TSS 2006g; TSSC 2006ap):

Subpopulation Tenure Year last seen Area of occupancy (hectare) Number of mature plants (estimate) Specific threats
Blue Lake track Cameron Regional Reserve and Unallocated Crown Land (status may have changed) 1996 0.12 7000 Undisturbed, mining nearby, a 2007 survey (following a fire event) suggests that this subpopulation may be extinct
Wedgetail Creek Cameron Regional Reserve 1996 0.06 450 Undisturbed
Cube Rock Cameron Regional Reserve 1996 0.04 170 Undisturbed
Mt Cameron Cameron Regional Reserve 2001 0.59 900 Undisturbed
Mt Stronach Mt Stronach Forest Reserve 1996 3.46 11 000 Undisturbed
Dalrymple Hill Castle Cary Regional Reserve 1996 0.02 300 Undisturbed
Billy Bend Cameron Regional Reserve 1999 < 1 300 Undisturbed
First Sugarloaf Cameron Regional Reserve 2000 about 0.1 200 Undisturbed, Phytopthora nearby

Keith (1997) reported mortality rates of 10–20% for subpopulations that had not been burnt for 25–30 years. However, there is insufficient data to infer rates of mortality across all subpopulations (TSS 2006g). Similarly, there may be fluctuations in population numbers in response to fire events, or absence of fire events (Keith 1997; TSS 2006g).

The majority of known Mt Cameron Heath subpopulations are reserved within Cameron Regional Reserve, Castle Cary Regional Reserve and Mt Stronach Forest Reserve. The only exception is part of one subpopulation which occurs on Unallocated Crown Land (TSS 2006g). It is assumed that reserved populations are managed passively (TSS 2006g). Proposed activities within these reserves are subject to the Tasmanian Reserve Management Code of Practice (Tas. PWS et al. 2003).

Mt Cameron Heath grows on skeletal soils on rocky Devonian granite outcrops, usually on summits in heath and dry scrub-forest at 90–720 m elevation (Keith 1997).

Habitat at Mt Cameron is characterised by dry scrub interspersed with non-vegetated granite boulders. Scrub elements include mallee-form Black Peppermint (Eucalyptus amygdalina) and tall shrubs of Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata), White Kunzea (Kunzea ambigua) and Mountain Tea-tree (Leptospermum grandiflorum). Low shrubs at the site include Pentachondra involucrata, Spreading Wattle (Acacia genistifolia), Allocasuarina monilifera, Notched Phebalium (Phebalium bilobum), Common Heath (Epacris impressa) and Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) (Keith 1997).

The maximum life span of individual Mt Cameron Heath plants is thought to be 30–40 years (Keith 1997) with a generation length of 8–20 years (TSS 2006g). Established Epacris plants are likely to have a low background rate of mortality (< 1%/year), though mortality rates of > 10% have been recorded in populations that have remained unburnt for 25–30 years (Keith 1997).

Mt Cameron Heath flowers in spring, but there is no data available for the breeding system of this species. Known pollinators of Epacris include adult carrion flies (Tabanidae, Muscidae and Calliphoridae) (Keith 1997). Fruit production for Epacris plants depend on plant size, fire history and associated canopy shading, with up to several thousand seeds produced each year (Keith 1997). Fruit production may be substantially reduced on plants that occur in shaded positions. Fruit losses also occur as a result of predation, herbivore browsing and mechanical damage (TSS 2006g).

Seed release is likely to peak in late summer and be completed by early autumn (Keith 1997). Dispersal is passive and very few seeds are likely to be dispersed more than a few metres from their parent plant. A large percentage of seed produced remains dormant and accumulates in the seed bank after each fruiting event. Seeds respond to heat shock and smoke derivatives, suggesting a positive seedling response following fire. The longevity of seed is unknown, though Keith (1997) indicates that many seeds remain viable for at least two years. The ability of the species to coppice (resprout) following fire is unknown.

Surveys should be conducted during Mt Cameron Heath's peak flowering period in September–November (TSS 2006g).

Mt Cameron Heath may be distinguished from other Tasmanian Epacris by the following features: divaricate minutely-hairy branches, recurved leaves that are relatively small and broad, sepals glabrous, stigma and anthers exserted from the corolla tube (TSS 2006g). It has been suggested that this species has distinctive wide-spreading branches (Keith 1997).

Mt Cameron Heath is threatened by inappropriate fire regimes, disease and risk from stochastic events.

Inappropriate fire regimes
Keith (1997) considered Mt Cameron Heath to be potentially threatened by prolonged fire-free intervals, citing mortality rates of 10–20% for subpopulations that had not been burnt for 25–30 years (and < 1% for areas with more frequent fire) (Keith 1997). Moreover, there are no fire management plans in place for any of the known subpopulations. Some opinion suggests that infrequent fire is beneficial for the species (TSS 2006g). However, observations in burnt and unburnt habitat suggest (fire-dependant) germination conditions are not necessarily consistent. These include:

  • Surveys in October 2006 of the (unburnt) Mt Cameron population found some seedlings, however, conditions leading to germination are unknown (TSSC 2009ap).
  • The Mt Cameron fire of March 2006 encompassed six known subpopulations, but the buffering nature of the species' boulder granite habitat meant that five subpopulations were relatively unaffected (TSSC 2009ap).
  • Following the March 2006 fire, the population on the Blue Lake track had not been located in late 2007, indicating that there has been no coppicing or recruitment from the soil seedbank (DPIW 2008, unpubl. data, cited in TSSC 2009ap).

Disease
Mt Cameron Heath is suspected of being susceptible to the exotic soil-borne plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi (Keith 1997), although no plants have exhibited symptoms in the field. The disease is known to occur in close proximity to at least one subpopulation within the Cameron Regional Reserve, with potential for future spread via bushwalkers and native animals. All known subpopulations occur within formal reserves, though their reserve status - regional reserve and forest reserve - permits activities such as mineral exploration, another potential source of disease spread (Keith 1997).

Stochastic events
The low plant numbers (< 500 plants) in some subpopulations may be exposed to localised extinctions due to unforeseen human activities or stochastic events (TSS 2006g).

Priority actions
Keith (1997d) identified a number of management strategies aimed at mitigating disease, vegetation clearance, habitat degradation, weed invasion and adverse fire regimes. Keith (1997) and the Tasmanian Threatened Species Section (2006g) identified a number of issues that should be pursued to better understand the species' management requirements:

  • the significance of fire/smoke as a cue to germination and/or flowering
  • an examination of the species' life history attributes
  • the fire-related regeneration ecology of the species
  • the susceptibility of the species to Phytophthora cinnamomi
  • ongoing population monitoring.

The Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath)(TSSC 2009aq) identifies the following priority actions:

  • Monitor known populations to identify key threats or the progress of recovery, including the effectiveness of management actions and the need to adapt them if necessary.
  • Identify populations of high conservation priority.
  • Control access routes to suitably constrain public access to known sites on public land.
  • Continue survey work in potential habitat to locate any additional populations.
  • Minimise adverse impacts from land use at known sites.
  • Manage threats to areas of vegetation that contain populations of Mt Cameron Heath.
  • Develop and implement a suitable fire management strategy for Mt Cameron Heath.
  • Identify appropriate intensity and interval of fire to promote seed germination.
  • Develop and implement suitable hygiene protocols to protect known sites from outbreaks of dieback caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi.
  • Raise awareness of Mt Cameron Heath within the local community.
  • Undertake appropriate seed collection and storage.
  • Undertake seed germination and/or vegetative propagation trials to determine the requirements for successful establishment.
  • Investigate options for linking, enhancing or establishing additional populations.
  • Implement appropriate translocation protocols if establishing additional populations is considered necessary and feasible.
  • Consider the establishment of ex situ populations.

Disease management
Given the suspected susceptibility of Mt Cameron Heath to dieback, areas containing known subpopulations should be considered by land managers for classification as Phytophthora cinnamomimanagement areas (Schahinger et al. 2003). Any planned developments or activities in such areas are subject to area-specific prescriptions, as well as compliance with established planning procedures. Similar provisions are in place for any proposed mineral exploration activities (TSS 2006g).

Fire Management
None of the reserves that support Mt Cameron Heath have fire management plans in place. Ecological burning programs need to be developed and implemented for the applicable reserves, with appropriate pre-fire and post-fire monitoring for threatened species (TSS 2006g).

Monitoring
The last comprehensive surveys of Mt Cameron Heath subpopulations were undertaken in the mid 1990s (Keith 1997, 1997d). Given the potential impact of disease on the species and the unknown impact of a recent wildfire on six of the eight known subpopulations, it is essential that each subpopulation be monitored to guide future recovery work (TSS 2006g).

Development assessments
The Conservation Assessment Section (Tas. DPIWE) and the Forest Practices Authority (Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure, Energy & Resources) are required to consider the impacts of developments on species listed under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995(Tasmania) (TSS 2006g).

Other
An ex situ living plant collection has been established at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (Hobart) that may allow for suitable stock of the plant to be available for horticultural purposes (Keith 1997).

Key management documents for Mt Cameron Heath include:

  • Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999–2004 (Keith 1997), under the name Epacris sp. aff. exserta (Mt Cameron)
  • Draft Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 2006–2010 (TSS 2006h)
  • Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (DEWHA 2009w).

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
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004 (Keith, D., 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Introduction of pathogens and resultant disease Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Vegetation and habitat loss caused by dieback Phytophthora cinnamomi Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004 (Keith, D., 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009aq) [Conservation Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004 (Keith, D., 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009aq) [Conservation Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004 (Keith, D., 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004 (Keith, D., 1997) [State Recovery Plan].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009ap) [Listing Advice].
Species Stresses:Species Stresses:unspecified Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009aq) [Conservation Advice].

Department of the Environment (2014a). Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. [Online]. Canberra; ACT: Department of the Environment. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/threat-abatement-plan-disease-natural-ecosystems-caused-phytophthora-cinnamomi.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009w). Threat abatement plan for disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. [Online]. Canberra; ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/phytophthora.html.

Keith, D. (1997). Recovery Plan - Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 1999-2004. [Online]. Hobart: Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/tas-forest/index.html.

Keith, D. (1997d). The distribution and population status of rare Tasmanian forest Epacrids. Unpublished report. Hobart: Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

Keith, D.A. (2000). Sampling designs, field techniques and analytical methods for systematic plant population surveys. Ecological Management & Restoration. 1(2):125-139.

North, A., K. Johnson, K. Ziegler, F. Duncan, K. Hopkins, D. Ziegler & S. Watts (1998). Flora of Recommended Areas for Protection and Forest Reserves of Tasmania. Hobart, Tasmania: Forest Practices Board, Forestry Tasmania, and Parks and Wildlife Services.

Schahinger, R., T. Rudman & T. Wardlaw (2003). Conservation of Tasmanian Plant Species & Communities threatened by Phytophthora cinnamomi. Strategic Regional Plan for Tasmania. Technical Report 03/03. Hobart, Tasmania: Nature Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (Tas. PWS), Forestry Tasmania & Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (2003). Tasmanian Reserve Management Code of Practice. Hobart: Department of Tourism, Parks, Heritage and the Arts.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2009ap). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/82822-listing-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2009aq). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Epacris graniticola (Mt Cameron Heath). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/82822-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006g). Unpublished information on Epacris graniticola. Hobart, Tasmania: TSS, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2006h). Draft Flora Recovery Plan: Tasmanian Forest Epacrids 2006-2010. Hobart: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

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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). Epacris graniticola in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:25:32 +1000.