Dandaragan Mallee Eucalyptus dolorosa 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 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

All relevant land managers have been notified of the location and threatened status of Eucalyptus dolorosa. The notification details the Declared Rare status of the species and associated legal obligations. A cooperative relationship has been established between CALM and the land managers.

Some seed was collected from E. dolorosa on two occasions in 2003, but the quantity and viability of that seed is unknown as yet, as the collections have not yet been processed. Both collections are stored at CALM's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC).

Initial attempts have been made to propagate this species from seed and cuttings at the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) nursery, but these have been unsuccessful. A number of plants have been propagated from tissue culture material by the BGPA research team. There are two Eucalyptus dolorosa plants in BGPAs Botanic Garden, and 12 in the Nursery, that are destined for planting into the Garden. These plants are from two genetic lines (Amanda Shade, Horticulturalist, Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, pers. comm.). BGPA also hold 0.7 g of seed collected in 1991.

DNA research has established that Eucalyptus dolorosa is not a hybrid (Rossetto et al. 1999). They found that the overall genetic variability within E. dolorosa was 16%, and the within-stand variability ranged from 14% to zero. Interestingly, the greatest genetic diversity was not found in the stand of most numerous stems, but in a smaller stand. A total of 12 distinct genotypes were detected from five discrete clumps. Genetic testing of a small number of seedlings provided evidence of outcrossing pollination.

A double-sided information sheet has been prepared, and includes a description of Euclyptus dolorosa, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be printed, and then distributed to community members through local libraries, wildflower shows and other avenues. It is hoped that this may result in the discovery of new populations.

Staff from CALMs Moora District regularly monitor this species.

The Moora District Threatened Flora and Communities 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 Moora District Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Team will coordinate recovery actions for E. dolorosa 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 (Moora District) through the MDTFCRT
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 (Moora District, WATSCU) through the MDTFCRT
Cost: $2,000 in the first year

3. Liaise with land managers

Staff from CALM's Moora District will continue to liaise with relevant land managers to ensure that populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed. The possibility of improving the security of the population and its habitat will be discussed, to provide protection in case there is a change in landholder. This may include seeking to set up a conservation covenant through one of a range of agencies, or registration through the Land for Wildlife scheme. Input and involvement will also be sought from any indigenous groups that have an active interest in areas that are habitat for Eucalytpus dolorosa.

Action: Liaise with land managers
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFCRT
Cost: $700 per year

4. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

Adult mallee eucalypts typically resprout from lignotubers after fire, producing multiple stems that usually flower more quickly than a juvenile growing from seed. Fire also often stimulates germination of seed in eucalypts. Therefore, although eucalypts are well adapted to fire, frequent fires may prevent the accumulation of sufficient soil-stored seed for a new wave of germination, kill fire-stimulated seedlings before they can recruit into the population, and deplete the lignotuber of existing adults. Fire also promotes the introduction and proliferation of weed species. Fire should therefore be prevented from occurring in the area of populations, except where it is being used experimentally as a recovery tool. A fire management strategy will be developed in consultation with land managers to determine appropriate fire control measures, and a recommended fire frequency and intensity.

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

5. Monitor population

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including plant diseases such as Phytophthora cinnamomi and weed invasion), population stability (expansion or decline), pollination activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is highly desirable.

Detailed monitoring of a selection of individual stems will be undertaken to track the health and longevity of the species, and record flower and fruit timing and abundance. This will be carried out twice each year, at expected time of flowering and expected time of seed set. This monitoring regime will be implemented in a way that minimises potential damage to the habitat from additional visitation and disturbance. This will include monitoring during dry soil conditions to prevent erosion, maintaining dieback hygiene, and selecting stems at the extremities of the population for more detailed data collection.

A monitoring plot will be established around some stems, to record the occurrence of any seedlings. This information will help to clarify the causes of the lack of recruitment, and possible solutions. For example if flowers are produced but little seed is set, the possible causes such as non-viable pollen or lack of pollinators can be investigated. If pollinators are absent, periodic hand pollination may promote seed set.

Action: Monitor population
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFCRT
Cost: $1,300 per year

6. 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 live plants in cultivation, seed and tissue culture material. Fourteen plants are currently in cultivation at BGPA. Some seed has been collected from the population but additional collections are required to maintain adequate representation of the genetic diversity of this taxon. The patterns of viability that emerge from standard tests on seed collected may indicate the need for other recovery actions such as hand pollination.

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

7. Conduct further surveys

Community volunteers will be encouraged to be involved in further surveys supervised by CALM staff to be conducted during the flowering period of the species (February-March). Records of areas surveyed will be sent to Wildlife Branch and retained at the districts, even if E. dolorosa is not found. Note will be made of any habitat suitable for translocation.

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

8. Propagate translocates from tissue culture

Rossetto et al. (1999) found 12 distinct genetic lines of E. dolorosa. These will be introduced to tissue culture, and plantlets suitable for translocation will eventually be produced from that material. It is essential that the genetic diversity of these translocates is maximised. It is envisaged that production of translocates should be possible over a three to four year time frame. It is possible that some economies of scale may be achieved during this resource-intensive recovery action if other rare eucalypt species, for example E. impensa and E. leprophloia are included in the propagation program.

Action: Propagate translocates from tissue culture
Responsibility: BGPA (through the MDTFCRT)
Cost: $18,100 in second year, $15,900 in third year and $7,500 in the fourth and fifth years

9. Undertake and monitor translocation

Translocation is essential for the conservation of this species, as the species is highly vulnerable to localised threats including disease and inappropriate fire regimes. A translocation proposal will be developed and suitable translocation sites selected. Propagation of plants will occur from tissue culture and from seed. Plants previously propagated from tissue culture have been more vigorous than those grown from seed, and can ensure that all genotypes currently present in the population can be included in the translocation. Seedlings examined have been found to be strongly outcrossed (Rossetto et al. 1999), and so will add to the genetic pool of the translocated population. These will be planted in accordance with CALM's Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. All Translocation Proposals require endorsement by CALMs Director of Nature Conservation.

Monitoring of the translocation is essential and will be undertaken according to the timetable developed for the Translocation Proposal.

Action: Undertake and monitor translocation
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District, TFSC) and BGPA through the MDTFCRT
Cost: $14,800 in the fourth year and $12,500 in the fifth year

10. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of this species 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 this includes a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be printed and distributed to the public through CALMs Moora District office and at the office and library of the Shire of Dandaragan. Such information distribution may lead to the discovery of new populations.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: CALM (Moora District) through the MDTFCRT
Cost: $1,700 in first year, and $1,100 per year thereafter

11. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of E. dolorosa will provide a scientific basis for its management in the wild. An understanding of the following is necessary for more effective management:

  • Soil seed bank dynamics, including seed bank location and viability.
  • The role of various disturbances (including fire), 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.

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

12. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan

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. If the species is still ranked as Critically Endangered at that time a full Recovery Plan may be required.

Action: Review the need for further recovery actions and/or a full Recovery Plan
Responsibility: CALM (WATSCU, Moora District) through the MDTFCRT
Cost: $20,300 in the fifth year (if full Recovery Plan required)