Moresby Range Drummondita Drummondita ericoides 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


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 species 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

The owner of the land on which Population 4 occurs has been notified of the location and threatened status of the species. The notification details the Declared Rare status of Drummondita ericoides and associated legal obligations.

Land acquisitions have incorporated habitat of the three largest populations (Populations 1, 2 and 5) into the conservation estate since this species was first declared rare. Population 1 is now within a Nature Reserve, and Populations 2 and 5 occur within an area recently acquired for conservation, although a final determination on tenure has not yet been made. That area will become either a Nature Reserve or a Conservation Park.

Approximately 200 seeds were collected from Population 2 in 2001, but the viability of this seed is as yet unknown. The seed is stored in CALM's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC) at 18C.

Propagation by cuttings was undertaken at Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA) in 1994 with very low success rates (6-9%). Nine plants resulted from 118 cuttings from two clones. The last of these died in December 2002, and there are currently no living plants at BGPA. Approximately 250 seeds were collected from Population 1 in 1994, and are held in BGPAs Seed Science and Technology Centre (Amanda Shade, Horticulturalist, Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, personal communication).

Tissue culturing trials were initiated by BGPA (then Kings Park and Botanic Garden) in 1984. Material was successfully cultured, but there was difficulty achieving rooted plantlets, and those plants that were transferred to soil failed to thrive. Additional material was collected in 1985 to broaden the genetic diversity of the collected material, but only two clones remain in culture. Trials have continued over time, and material is currently being bulked up for further attempts at root induction and transfer to soil. This species multiplies adequately in culture, but root initiation under in vitro conditions is very slow. Rooted plantlets from tissue culture do not make the transition to soil very well. It is unusual that rooting success has not improved over time as has been noted with other woody plants under in vitro conditions. It may be that the species requires as yet unknown specialized conditions for successful micropropagation, or it may simply reflect poor source material. Further in vitro research on Drummondita ericoides will concentrate on modifying shoot growth and optimising media and culture conditions to achieve successful micropropagation (Eric Bunn, Senior Research Scientist (Propagation Science), Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, personal communication).

A double-sided information sheet has been prepared, and includes a description of D. ericoides, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be printed in colour, and then distributed. It is hoped that this may result in the discovery of new populations.

Staff from CALMs Geraldton District regularly monitor all populations of this species.

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

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 Geraldton District Threatened Flora Recovery Team will coordinate recovery actions for Drummondita ericoides and other Declared Rare Flora in their district. They will include information on progress in their annual report to CALMs Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action:Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$1,000 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 redressed 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 (Geraldton District, WATSCU) through GDTFRT
Cost:$2,000 in the first year

3. Notify landholder

Staff from CALM's Wildlife Branch will formally notify the owner of the land on which Population 3 occurs following further survey of that land.

Action:Notify landholder
Responsibility:CALM (Wildlife Branch)
Cost:$100 in the first year

4. Liaise with land managers

Staff from CALM's Geraldton District will continue to liaise with relevant land managers and landowners to ensure that populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed. Two significant sites that occur in the vicinity of Drummondita ericoides are listed on the Aboriginal Sites Register maintained by the Department of Indigenous Affairs. Input and involvement will be sought from any indigenous groups that have an active interest in the areas that are habitat for Drummondita ericoides.

Action:Liaise with land managers
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$1500 per year

5. Monitor populations

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion), population stability (expansion or decline), pollinator activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential. Particular note will be made of the level of threat posed by the increased human presence due to the residential development adjacent to Population 1. Possible threats arising are dumping of rubbish and garden waste, damage through recreational activities and increased risk of fire.

Action:Monitor populations
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$1,000 per year

6. Conduct further surveys

Community volunteers will be encouraged to be involved in further surveys supervised by CALM staff that will be conducted during the flowering period of the species (August-October). Records of areas surveyed will be sent to Wildlife Branch and retained at the District, even if Drummondita ericoides is not located. Where possible, surveys that may clarify the status of the Priority 1 Ecological Community Melaleuca megacephala and Hakea pycnoneura thickets of Moresby Range should be included with surveys for Drummondita ericoides.

Action:Conduct further surveys
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$2,500 per year in the first, third and fifth years

7. Revegetate areas previously cleared for agriculture

Some of the land supporting Populations 2 and 5 (newly acquired for the conservation estate) contains areas previously cleared for agriculture. These areas will be revegetated using common habitat species sourced from the local area. This process will continue over several years, and will include weed control as appropriate. The improvement in habitat condition will provide a vegetated buffer that will help to protect populations from weed invasion and other edge effects.

Action:Revegetate areas previously cleared for agriculture
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$15,000 per year

8. Seek long-term protection of habitat

Ways and means of improving the security of populations and their habitat on private land will be sought. This may include conservation covenants with a range of agencies or registration through the Land for Wildlife scheme. Population 3 occurs in vegetation in excellent condition adjacent to a Nature Reserve. The possibility of incorporating this area into the Nature Reserve will be investigated.

Action:Seek long-term protection of habitat
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$1,500 in the second and fourth years

9. Collect seed

It is necessary to store germplasm as a genetic resource, ready for use in translocations and as an ex situ genetic blueprint of the species. The germplasm stored will include seed and tissue culture material. Some seed has been collected from Population 1 and 2 but additional collections are required from both those and other populations to maintain adequate representation of the genetic diversity of this species. The patterns of viability that emerge from standard tests on seed collected may indicate the need for other recovery actions. Some tissue culture material of two clones sourced from Population 1 is in storage, but this species has proved difficult to micropropagate to the planting-out stage, so this material does not yet represent a resource for translocations.

Action:Collect seed
Responsibility:CALM (TFSC, Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$2,200 in the first, third and fifth years

10. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

D. ericoides has the ability to resprout from rootstock after fire, although individual plant survival may depend on the depth of the roostock in shallow soils over rock. Population age structures suggest that this species is not fire dependent for regeneration, and long unburnt populations are healthy. Frequent fire may prevent the accumulation of soil-stored seed, and may also deplete the resources of the rootstock. Fire also promotes the introduction and proliferation of weed species, and by removing vegetation may accelerate erosion on the rocky slopes that D. ericoides inhabits. Fire should therefore be prevented from occurring in the habitat of populations except where being used as a recovery tool. A fire management strategy will be developed in consultation with land managers to determine fire control measures, and a recommended burning frequency, seasonality and intensity.

Action:Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$2,500 in first year, and $1,700 in subsequent years

11. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of this species and the associated Priority 1 Ecological Community will be promoted to the community through poster displays and the local print and electronic media. Formal links with local naturalist groups and interested individuals will also be encouraged. An information sheet has been developed, and includes a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be printed, and distributed to the public through CALMs Geraldton District office and at the office and library of the Shire of Chapman Valley. This distribution of information may lead to the discovery of new populations.

Action:Promote awareness
Responsibility:CALM (Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$1,700 in first year, and $700 per year thereafter

12. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Drummondita ericoides will provide a scientific basis for its management in the wild. An understanding of the following is desirable for effective management:

  • Soil seed bank dynamics, including seedbank location and viability.
  • The role of competition, rainfall and grazing in germination and recruitment.
  • The pollination biology of the species.
  • The requirements of pollinators.
  • The reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth of the species.
  • The population genetic structure, levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.

Action:Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility:CALM (Science Division, Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$12,000 per year in the second, third and fourth years

13. Review the need for further recovery actions

At the end of the fourth year of its five-year term this Interim Recovery Plan will be reviewed and the need for further recovery actions will be assessed.

Action:Review the need for further recovery actions
Responsibility:CALM (WATSCU, Geraldton District) through GDTFRT
Cost:$200 in the fifth year