One-Headed Smokebush Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephelatum Interim Recovery Plan 2004-2009)

Western Australian Threatened Species and Communities Unit (WATSCU)
© The Western Australian, Department of Conservation and Land Management, 2004

2. Recovery Objective And Criteria

Objectives

The objective of this Interim Recovery Plan is to abate identified threats and maintain or enhance in situ populations to ensure the long-term preservation of the taxon in the wild.

Criteria for success:

The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have increased by ten percent or more over the period of the plans adoption under the EPBC Act.

Criteria for failure:

The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have decreased by ten percent or more over the period of the plans adoption under the EPBC Act.

3. Recovery Actions

Existing recovery actions

Westnet Rail and Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) have been formally notified of the presence and threatened nature of populations of Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum on their land. The notification details the Declared Rare status of the taxon and the associated legal responsibilities.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at most populations along the road and rail line. The newly discovered populations will be marked as part of Westnet Rails Rare Flora Management protocol. These markers serve to alert people working in the vicinity to the presence of DRF, and the need to avoid work that may damage plants or their habitat. Dashboard stickers and posters describing the significance of DRF markers have been produced and distributed.

Extensive surveys have been carried out in the area since 1985 to relocate Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum in previous collection sites or discover new populations. Consultant E. Bennett did not record any new populations during extensive surveys undertaken since 1985. The taxon was also not collected by T. Griffith during floristic surveys of the remnant vegetation in the Bindoon Moora area during 1991, and was not located during the Bioprospecting surveys conducted by R. Cranfield and D. Kabay during 1992-1993.

D. Papenfus undertook searches for the taxon in 1996 and relocated Populations 1 and 2, however the other populations were not relocated. She continued surveys for Priority flora in nearby areas during June to November 1996, however no additional populations of this taxon were located. All known populations were relocated by CALM staff in 2003 except for one 70km south of Moora on Great Northern Highway. A new population (Population 5) of one plant was discovered during this survey. Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum was not located during surveys by various botanists in South Koogee Nature Reserve, Gillingarra Nature Reserve, Udamung Nature Reserve, Boonanarring Nature Reserve or Seven Mile Well Nature Reserve.

Fourteen cuttings of Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum were taken by BGPA in May 2001, but no plants developed from these.

BGPA currently holds two clones of Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum from tissue cultures. They have previously received material from 3 clones however most material is now dead. 31 seedlings were potted between January 2000 and March 2001 however only two of these remain.

There have been several collections of Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum seed by the Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC). In 1999, 7gm (~2545 fruits) were collected from Population 2. The initial germination rate was 67% (with estimated viability of 81%). In 2000, 731 fruits were collected from population 4, and 666 fruits collected from Population 1. The seed from Population 4 had an initial germination rate of 23%, and the seed from Population 1 had an initial germination rate of 16% with an estimated viability of 18%. Seed was also collected from Population 1 in November 2003 however this has not yet been cleaned.

Initial testing for resistance to Phytophthora spp. has been carried out by CALM Science. Three plants were tested and were found to be resistant to the disease.

The Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) is overseeing the implementation of this IRP and will include information on progress in their annual report to CALM's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Staff from CALM's Moora District regularly monitor populations of this taxon.

Future recovery actions

Where populations occur on lands other than those managed by CALM, permission has been or will be sought from appropriate land managers prior to recovery actions being undertaken. The following recovery actions are roughly in order of descending priority; however this should not constrain addressing any of the priorities if funding is available for lower priorities and other opportunities arise.

1. Coordinate recovery actions

The Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) will continue to coordinate recovery actions for Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum and other Declared Rare Flora in their region. They will include information on progress in their annual report to CALMs Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action: Coordinate recovery actions

Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $2,200 per year.

2. Map critical habitat

It is a requirement of the EPBC Act that spatial data relating to critical habitat be determined. Although critical habitat is described in Section 1, the areas as described have not yet been mapped and that will be done under this action. If any additional populations are located, then critical habitat will also be determined and mapped for these locations.

Action: Map critical habitat
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District, WATSCU) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,500 in the first year

3. Undertake weed control

Weed control will be undertaken in consultation with relevant land managers. Appropriate methods of weed control are found in Brown and Brooks (2002) and may include hand weeding or localised application of herbicide. All applications of weed control will be followed by a report on the method, timing and success of the treatment against weeds, and the effect on Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum and associated native plant species. It is anticipated that native species in the habitat will regenerate after weed competition is removed.

Action: Undertake weed control
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$800 per year.

4. Install Declared Rare Flora markers

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers are required at the road reserve at Population 5. Their purpose is to alert people operating in the area to the presence of DRF and to help prevent habitat disturbance.

Action: Install DRF markers
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $400 in first year.

5. Determine genetics of the subspecies

The distinctiveness of the two subspecies needs to be clarified through genetic analysis as they occur in close proximity in similar habitat, and have quite similar floral characteristics. Some specimens have been shown to possess properties of both subspecies in the flower heads of the same plant. Genetic analysis will determine whether the subsp. unicephalatum is a separate subspecies to the common subsp. densiflorum.

Action: Compare genetics of the subspecies

Responsibility: CALM (Science Division) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $3500 in first year.

6. Conduct further surveys

Further surveys will be conducted for this taxon during its flowering period (September to November) in appropriate habitat and similar soil types, including on private lands wherever possible. Volunteers from the local community, Wildflower Society and Naturalist Clubs will be encouraged to be involved in surveys supervised by CALM staff. Some of the first locations noted in herbarium records have not been relocated because of the vague locality description of "near Gingin" by Blackall in 1932, and Whibley in 1974 that locates the taxon as 30km north east of Gingin. Both localities warrant further investigation. Reserves in the vicinity that also warrant further investigation include; Bartletts Well Nature Reserve, Betts Nature Reserve, Lake Wannamal Nature Reserve, Mogumber Nature Reserve, Moochamulla Nature Reserve, Moore River National Park, Quins Hill Nature Reserve, Sand Spring Well Nature Reserve, and Yurine Swamp Nature Reserve. Remnant vegetation on suitable soil types exists in these areas. Recent bushfires in the Mogumber / Wannamal area may also have created appropriate disturbance for Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum populations to regenerate, however weed invasion in this area may be inhibiting reestablishment. Areas considered suitable for translocation will also be noted.

The small areas that contain known populations of Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum have unusual geology, and are located at the bottom of the Darling Scarp. The geology of these areas will be examined, and similar habitat will also be searched.

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $2,100 per year.

7. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

As Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum produces seed that germinates following soil disturbance, it is likely that it also germinates after fire. A fire management strategy will be developed to recommend fire frequency, intensity, season, and control measures. This will be carried out in conjunction with MRWA and Westnet Rail.

Action: Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) in conjunction with Main Roads WA and Westnet Rail, through the MDTFRT
Cost: $2,500 in first year and $1,000 in subsequent years.

8. Collect and store seed

Seed has been collected from Populations 1, 2 and 4. Ideally seed will be collected from all populations, and collections will also be made from Populations 3 and 5, if possible.

Action: Collect and store seed
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District, TFSC) and BGPA, through the MDTFRT
Estimated Cost: $2,200 per year

9. Monitor populations

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion and plant diseases), population stability (expansion or decline), pollination activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential. All populations will be inspected annually.

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,000 per year.

10. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for long-term protection of wild populations of this taxon will be promoted to the community through poster displays and the local print and electronic media. Formal links with local naturalist groups, Bushcare and Catchment groups and interested individuals will also be encouraged. An information sheet that includes a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos will be produced. A reply paid postal drop of a pamphlet that illustrates Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum and describes its distinctive features and habitat will be distributed to residents in Shires that contain possible habitat for the taxon. Postal drops aim to stimulate interest, provide information about threatened species and provide a name and number to contact if new populations are located.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,400 in first year, $700 in second year and $600 in remaining years.

11. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum will provide a better scientific basis for management of the wild populations. An understanding of the following is particularly necessary for effective management:

  1. Soil seed bank dynamics and the role of various disturbances (including fire), competition, rainfall and grazing in germination and recruitment.
  2. The pollination biology of the taxon, and the requirements of pollinators.
  3. The reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth of the taxon.
  4. The population genetic structure, levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: CALM (Science Division, Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $18,900 per year for the first three years.

12. Liaise with land managers

Staff from CALMs Moora District will continue to liaise with Main Roads WA and Westnet Rail to ensure the populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed during road and rail maintenance activities. Input and involvement will also be sought from any indigenous groups that have an active interest in areas that are habitat for Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum.

Action: Liaise with land managers
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District), through the MDTFRT
Cost: $600 per year

13. Start translocation process

Translocations are generally undertaken under full Recovery Plans, however due the present location of the plants only on disturbed, narrow road and rail verges, translocation to more secure sites would be beneficial for the security of the species. It is possible to develop a Translocation Proposal and start propagating plants within the timeframe of an Interim Recovery Plan. Information on the translocation of threatened animals and plants in the wild is provided in CALM Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. All Translocation Proposals require endorsement by the Director of Nature Conservation.

Action: Start translocation process
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $5,300 in fifth year

14. Stimulate the germination of soil-stored seed, as required

Soil disturbance, burning, and/or smoke water may be effective in stimulating the germination of soil-stored seed. At present germination of soil stored seed is occurring in the absence of artificial stimulation. If natural germination rates fall, trials will be conducted near existing populations in areas newly cleared of weeds, and/or in areas where Conospermum densiflorum subsp. unicephalatum was known to occur previously. After treatment, annual monitoring of germinants will include recording the time when flowering first occurs, seed is produced and the age at which of senescence is reached. This will enable formulation of a recommended interval time between disturbances to maintain populations. When mature plants senesce, soil disturbance will be implemented as required to encourage recruitment.

Action: Stimulate the germination of soil-stored seed, as required
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: To be determined

15. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan

At the end of the fourth year of the five-year term of this Interim Recovery Plan, the need for further recovery or to update this plan, or replace it with a full Recovery Plan will be assessed.

Action: Review the need for a full Recovery Plan
Responsibility: CALM (WATSCU, Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $23,000 in the fifth year (if required).