National recovery plan for Twenty-five threatened orchid taxa of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales 2003 - 2007

Coates, F., Jeanes, J. and Pritchard, A.
Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne, 2002

Appendix 3

Thelymitra epipactoides F. Muell.
Metallic Sun-orchid

Conservation status:
EPBC Act 1999: E
IUCN (2000): E (preliminary assessment)
NRE (2000): E
Distribution:
In Victoria - widespread in coastal and hinterland areas west of Bairnsdale and extending well inland in the west (Backhouse and Jeanes 1995), but discontinuous with scattered populations throughout its range.
In South Australia - widespread from the Eyre Peninsula to the far south-east corner (Bates and Weber 1990). Distributional data are currently unavailable for South Australian populations.
Specific details of population localities (including GPS data) are held on DSE and EH internal files.
Former and present range
Abundance:
Between 500 and 3,000 plants in the wild, known with certainty from 8 main populations in Victoria. South Australian populations currently being assessed. Likely to have formerly numbered many thousands of plants in Victoria and South Australia prior to habitat destruction.
Habitat:
Grows primarily in mesic coastal heathlands, grasslands and woodlands, but also found in drier inland heathlands, open forests and woodlands. Substrates may be moist or dry sandy loams or loamy sands. Critical habitat has not been determined, but likely to require open conditions, which may be created by soil disturbance or fire, for recruitment.
Reservation status:
Victoria - Blond Bay State Game Reserve, Bay of Islands Coastal Park; Port Campbell National Park; Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park; Lake Mundi Game Reserve; Coastal Park; Kiata Flora Reserve. Also recorded from Grampians NP (Vic), but not recently seen.
South Australia - Recorded from a number of reserves including Mount Boothby CP; Wanilla CP; Messent CP; Big Heath CP; Coorong NP; Monarto CP; Penny West CP; Tailem Bend NFR.
Management:
Victoria - Parks Victoria (East Victoria Region, Sale; West Victoria Region, Nelson, Horsham); DSE-BNR SW (Portland, Horsham); DSE Forests SW; DSE-BNR SE (Yarram).
South Australia - South Australian National Parks and Wildlife (Department of Environment and Heritage); private landowners;
South Australian Woods and Forests Department; Aboriginal Lands Trust.
Current and potential threats and their risk:
Current threats Perceived risk
Weed invasion Low in Vic - sites are generally in good condition.Low(?) in SA - no information is available at present.
Grazing Low at most sites. T. epipactoides appears able to withstand moderate grazing pressure.High at Blond Bay GR - excessive browsing has significantly modified vegetation.SA - no information is available at present.
Inappropriate fire regimes Low at most extant sites, but may have been more common where sites were burnt regularly in the past (eg. Billywing Rd, Grampians NP).SA - no information is available at present.
Site disturbance Generally low at present. T. epipactoides requires open bare ground created by disturbance for recruitment.However, populations at Port Campbell NP are close to roads and occupy sites that have been subject to development proposals.Most other sites are protected and populations well known.Moderate in SA - some sites have been destroyed by heavy machinery.
Reservation status Adequately reserved in Vic and SA
Protected at two sites in SA under Heritage Agreements.
Potential threats Perceived risk
Herbicide spraying and site disturbance Low in Vic.SA - no information is available at present.
Illegal collection Low - no evidence of collection in the past.
Woody shrub invasion Moderate at Golden Beach and Gippsland Lakes CP - invasion of coastal shrubs may occur in the absence of fire or grazing.SA - no information is available at present.

Recovery objectives:

Maintain and/or increase existing population sizes; protect and manage habitat.

Recovery actions undertaken:

  • Research into ecology and pollination biology (Calder et al. 1989; Cropper and Calder 1990).
  • Demographic censusing at Golden Beach and Port Campbell NP since 1991.
  • Population sizes for most Victorian sites are included on VrotPop threatened flora database.
  • Regular ecological burning carried out at Golden Beach.
  • All Victorian sites were visited during recovery plan preparation.

Issues specific to recovery in Victoria:

  • T. epipactoides has not been seen at Billywing Road, Grampians NP for a number of years, but is likely to be recoverable with restoration of an appropriate fire regime.
  • Population sizes tend to fluctuate, but most populations appear to respond well to disturbance.
  • A considerable amount of demographic census data exist for both eastern and western populations.
  • Analysis of existing Victorian census data is urgently required to evaluate the response of the population to management activities in the last 10 years and so that existing management strategies can be assessed.

Issues specific to recovery in South Australia:

  • The status and distribution of SA populations is poorly known and an assessment of the current size and extent of populations is urgently required. Recovery priorities and feasibility of actions, require further clarification in consultation with SA EH, and are provisional until relevant information becomes available.
  • Until the status of SA populations are better understood, responsibilities for actions (other than those for which there is a statutory responsibility) rest primarily with DSE. DSE will consult with EH before undertaking any actions for this species in SA. Once the status of SA populations is adequately known, responsibility for recovery actions in SA will be reviewed.

Overall recovery strategy:

Risk management will include identifying appropriate disturbance regimes and management strategies to promote recruitment. Upgrading or modification of site protection is required at two sites. Analysis of existing census data form eastern and western Victoria will be used as a basis for management in addition to ecological surveys. Baseline information is required in SA. Involvement from volunteers will be encouraged.

Consultation:

Parks Victoria (East Victoria Region: Bairnsdale; West Victoria Region: Nelson, Warrnambool, Horsham, Dimboola); DSE-BNR SE (Yarram, Bairnsdale); DSE-BNR SW (Warrnambool, Horsham); South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage, Adelaide.

Actions:
Action Blond Bay, Golden Beach, Gippsland Lakes CP (H) Lake Mundi (M) Kiata (H) Port Campbell NP, Bay of Islands NP, Lower Glenelg NP (H) Grampians (L) SA (M)
1. Determine current conservation status            
1.1 Clarify taxonomy N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1.2 Acquire baseline population data M M M M M H
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR PV PV EH
2. Investigate population biology            
2.1 Describe life history M M M M M M
2.2 Evaluate natural pollination levels and/or causes of pollinator limitation L L L L L L
2.3 Determine the effects of artificial pollination on growth survival and reproduction N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2.4 Determine spatial distribution of mycorrhizal fungi N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2.5 Determine optimal conditions for growth of mycorrhizal fungi in-situ N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DEH
3. Determine habitat requirements of key populations            
3.1 Identify key populations N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A H
3.2 Conduct surveys M M M M M H
3.3 Identify ecological correlates of populations L L L L L M
3.4 Prepare habitat descriptions L L L L L M
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR EH
4. Manage risks to populations            
4.1 Identify and implement strategies to control threats H H H H H H
4.2 Identify disturbance regimes to promote regeneration and recruitment M M M M M M
4.3 Protect key public land populations and habitat Completed Completed Completed Completed Completed H
4.4 Protect key private land populations and habitat N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A H
Responsibility DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV EH
5. Promote in-situ recruitment            
5.1 Prepare habitat for seedling recruitment N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
5.2 Re-stock populations with seed N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Responsibility DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV EH
6. Measure population trends and responses against recovery actions            
6.1 Conduct annual censusing of populations M M M M M M
6.2 Collate, analyse and report on census data M M M M M M
6.3 Re-prioritise and adjust recovery actions and/or threat management H H H H H H
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV EH
7. Increase populations ex-situ            
7.1 Hand pollinate plants N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
7.2 Establish a threatened orchid seed bank and determine seed viability N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
7.3 Establish a mycorrhizal fungi bank N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
7.4 Establish and maintain cultivated populations N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
7.5 Maintain a database of threatened orchid taxa in cultivation N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Responsibility DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV DSE-BNR, PV
8. Translocate cultivated plants            
8.1 Determine criteria for re-stocking/re-introduction N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
8.2 Evaluate site suitability N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
8.3 Determine long term cost-benefits and feasibility of translocating plants N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
8.4 Prepare and implement translocation plans N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
8.5 Maintain translocated populations N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR EH
9. Implement an education and communication strategy            
9.1 Prepare technical educational material on in-situ recovery techniques L L L L L N/A
9.2 Undertake community extension L L L L L L
9.3 Conduct workshops and symposia on in-situ recovery techniques L L L L L N/A
9.4 Encourage and support research by Higher Education Institutions and existing research partners N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR EH
10. Consolidate recovery and extend networks            
10.1 Maintain the Threatened Orchid Recovery Team L L L L L N/A
10.2 Establish and facilitate regional Recovery Teams L L L L L L
10.3 Co-ordinate recovery and exchange knowledge with interstate agencies L L L L L L
Responsibility DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR DSE-BNR