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 Pterostylis vernalis
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
 
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010f) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (09/02/2010).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft survey guidelines for Australia's threatened orchids (Department of the Environment, 2013b) [Admin Guideline].
 
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 (91) (09/02/2010) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010k) [Legislative Instrument] as Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald).
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178, 181 and 183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (160) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014h) [Legislative Instrument] as Pterostylis vernalis.
 
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Critically Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Pterostylis vernalis
Scientific name Pterostylis vernalis [84711]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (D.L.Jones) G.N.Backh.
Infraspecies author  
Reference Backhouse, G.N. (2010) New combinations in the terrestrial orchid genera Caladenia R.Br., Corybas Salisb. and Pterostylis R,.Br. (Orchidaceae) for south-eastern Australia. The Victorian Naturalist 127(2): 57 [comb. nov.]
Other names Speculantha vernalis [81855]
Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) [81967]
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

The Spring Tiny Greenhood is a tuberous terrestrial orchid that grows to approximately 20 cm high. The species has relatively large flowers for the genus, up to 10 mm long and 4.5 mm wide. These flowers are green at the base with distinctive white stripes and dark brown to blackish towards the top. The species has a rosette of leaves which appear prior to flowering (Jones 2006a).

The Spring Tiny Greenhood is endemic to NSW and is known from five populations in the Nowra district. One population is in a national park, one is on land zoned for urban development and the other three are on uncommitted crown land. Three of these populations occur near or adjacent to roads (TSSC 2010e).

The species occurs within the Southern Rivers Natural Resource Management Region and the Sydney Basin Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia Bioregion (TSSC 2010e).

The extent of occurrence of the Spring Tiny Greenhood is approximately 6 km² (ERIN 2009) and its area of occupancy is estimated to be 10 hectares (D.L. Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e). It is considered that the species geographic distribution is very restricted (TSSC 2010e).

The Spring Tiny Greenhood is known from five populations with an estimated total population size based on surveys in 1990, 1998 and 2005, of 500 mature individuals (D.L Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e). The two largest populations containing approximately 150 and 300 individuals. The remaining three populations contain between 6 and 20 individuals each (TSSC 2010e).

Surveys of the second and third largest populations suggest that they may be in decline. In the second largest population, 150 mature individuals were recorded in 1998 and 80 were recorded in 2005 (D.L. Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e; D. Rouse 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e). Twenty mature individuals were recorded in the third largest population in 1990 and none were recorded in 2005 (D.L. Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e; D. Rouse 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e). However, during years when no or a smaller number of individuals are visible above ground, some individuals are presumed to exist as dormant tubers underground. Therefore, the fewer number of individuals counted in later years may be a result of dormancy rather than population decline (TSSC 2010e).

The second largest population has suffered population declines as a result of past habitat clearance. This population occurs on either side of a road and near the edge of a quarry. Construction of the road and quarry are likely to have resulted in the loss of plants. In addition, this area is covered in vehicle tracks which may have resulted in damage to individuals and a decline in numbers (D.L. Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e).

The largest population of 300 mature individuals is located in an area that will be subject to urban development. As the species is located on the fringe of the area proposed for development, it is unknown whether habitat clearance will directly affect the species. However, secondary impacts associated with the development such as weed invasion, inappropriate fire regimes and altered hydrological regimes are likely to result in population declines (TSSC 2010e).

The Spring Tiny Greenhood grows in heath and heathy forests. It is most commonly found in open sites in shallow sandy soil and moss gardens around the margins of sandstone sheets with associated dwarf heaths and sedges. It is also found in moss beneath taller shrubs, particularly White Kunzea (Kunzea ambigua) and Leptospermum sejunctum. The species is associated with soil of a specific moisture regime, where the flow of water through the profile is inhibited by the underlying rock strata (Jones 2006a; D.L. Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e).

The Spring Tiny Greenhood is a perennial orchid which has a rosette of leaves that appear from a dormant underground tuber in late autumn or early winter following good rains. The flower stem appears in late winter and plants flower from August–October. The flowers, which have a strong, unpleasant scent, are pollinated by the males of tiny microdipteran (gnat) species (Jones & Clements 2002; D.L. Jones 2006, pers. comm., cited in TSSC 2010e).

Plants die down post-flowering and remain dormant over summer as a single subterranean tuber. Seeds require interactions with a mycorrhizal fungal host for germination. Mature plants probably also rely on regular infection by a mycorrhizal fungal host to receive an adequate carbon and nutrient supply (Jones 2006a).

This species does not rely on fire to induce flowering; however, flowering may be enhanced by summer fires (Jones 2006a).

The main identified threat to the Spring Tiny Greenhood is habitat clearance. The main potential threats to the species include altered hydrological regimes, climate change, vehicle traffic, road works, illegal collection and trampling by people.

Habitat clearance and development
Habitat clearance is a threat to the largest population as it occurs in an area that has been identified for future urban development. Secondary impacts associated with development may include weed invasion, inappropriate fire regimes and altered hydrological regimes (TSSC 2010e).

Climate conditions
As the Spring Tiny Greenhood appears to require a specific moisture regime, any changes in hydrology that reduce superficial groundwater are likely to have an adverse impact on the species. A number of populations may be threatened by altered hydrology as a result of development pressures in nearby sites. Climate change may also have a significant impact on the species (TSSC 2010e).

Roads and road maintenance
Damage from vehicles is a threat to populations that occur adjacent to roads. Road works, in particular widening of the road, also pose a potential threat (TSSC 2010e).

Illegal collection and trampling
Orchids in the wild are potentially threatened by illegal collection and trampling by people, including orchid enthusiasts (TSSC 2010e).

Minister's Reasons for Recovery Plan Decision
A recovery plan for the species is not considered to be necessary at this time, as the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats.

The Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (TSSC 2010f) outlines the following research priorities:

  • Design and implement a monitoring program or, if appropriate, support and enhance existing programs.
  • More precisely assess population size, distribution, ecological requirements and the relative impacts of threatening processes.
  • Undertake survey work in suitable habitat and potential habitat to locate any additional populations/occurrences/remnants. Due to the cryptic dormant period of the species during summer, surveys should be undertaken during the August–October flowering period.
  • Undertake seed germination trials to determine the requirements for successful establishment, including mycorrhizal association trials.

In addition, the Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (TSSC 2010f) outlines the following priority actions:

  • Monitor known populations to identify key threats.
  • Monitor the progress of recovery, including the effectiveness of management actions and the need to adapt them if necessary.
  • Ensure development, road widening and maintenance activities (or other infrastructure or development activities) involving substrate or vegetation disturbance in areas where the Spring Tiny Greenhood occurs do not adversely impact on known populations.
  • Maintain current superficial groundwater hydrological regimes.
  • Control access routes to suitably constrain public access to known sites on public land.
  • Investigate formal conservation arrangements, management agreements and for crown land investigate inclusion in reserve tenure if possible.
  • Raise awareness of the Spring Tiny Greenhood within the local community.
  • Frequently engage with private landholders and land managers responsible for the land on which populations occur and encourage these key stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of conservation management actions.
  • Undertake appropriate seed and mycorrhizal fungi collection and storage.
  • Investigate options for linking, enhancing or establishing additional populations.
  • Implement national translocation protocols (Vallee et al. 2004) if establishing additional populations is considered necessary and feasible.

The Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (TSSC 2010f) provides a brief biological overview and management recommendations.

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 Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Habitat disturbance from recreational vehicle use Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Soil disturbance and/or trampling due to bushwalking Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010e) [Listing Advice].

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2007). Australian Plant Census. [Online]. Australian National Herbarium, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian Biological Resources Study . Available from: http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/.

Environmental Resources Information Network (ERIN) (2009). Mapping data. Canberra, ACT: Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

Jones, D.L. (2006a). Speculantha vernali (Orchidaceae), a critically endangered new species from south-eastern New South Wales. The Orchadian. 15:277-281.

Jones, D.L. & M.A. Clements (2002). A review of Pterostylis (Orchidaceae). Australian Orchid Research. 4:1-168.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2010e). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81967-listing-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2010f). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Pterostylis sp. Flat Rock Creek (D.L.Jones 15873 & K.J.Fitzgerald) (Spring Tiny Greenhood). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/81967-conservation-advice.pdf.

Vallee, L., T. Hogbin, L. Monks, B. Makinson, M. Matthes & M. Rossetto (2004). Guidelines for the translocation of threatened plants in Australia - Second Edition. Canberra, ACT: Australian Network for Plant Conservation.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

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). Pterostylis vernalis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 19 Sep 2014 07:50:45 +1000.