Pinnate-leaved Eremophila (Eremophila pinnatifida ms) Interim Recovery Plan 2002-2007

Interim recovery plan no. 124
>Gillian Stack and Andrew Brown
Department of Conservation and Land Management, WA, 2003

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 10% or more.
Criteria for failure: The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have decreased by 10% or more.

3. Recovery actions

Existing recovery actions

All land managers have been notified of the location and threatened status of the species. The notification details the Declared Threatened status of Eremophila pinnatifida ms and the legal responsibility to protect it.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers were installed at Populations 2, 3 and 4. These serve to alert people working in the vicinity to the presence of DRF, and the need to avoid work that may damage it in that area. Awareness of the significance of these markers is being promoted to relevant bodies such as Shires, MRWA and the Bush Fires Board by the distribution of dashboard stickers and posters that illustrate DRF markers, inform of their purpose and provide a contact telephone number if such a marker is encountered.

Approximately 1300 seeds (from almost 3500 fruits) are stored in the Department's TFSC. Collections were made in 1997 from Population 1a, and in 1998 and 2000 from Population 3. Staff of the TFSC tested the viability of seed soon after collection and again after one year in storage. The initial germination rate of E. pinnatifida ms seed ranged from nil to 82%, and after one year in storage the germination rate ranged from nil to 62% (unpublished data A. Cochrane ¹ ).

¹ Anne Cochrane, Manager, the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre

The Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) currently have 13 plants of E. pinnatifida ms from five clones, grown from material collected in 1998. The species has been difficult to propagate by striking cuttings, but they have had better success grafting onto Myoporum rootstock, although there has been limited work using cuttings (personal communication A. Shade ² ). Three plants were grown from cuttings taken in 1997, but these all died in 2002. This lifespan is not considered surprising, as Eremophilas do not tend to do well in containers, which these plants were restricted to. It is intended that some of the existing plants will be planted into either an Eremophila bed or a Declared Rare Flora garden being established at BGPA.

The BGPA also has several clones of E. pinnatifida ms stored as tissue culture.

Weed control was commenced at Populations 1 and 2 in September 1998.

Major road construction work has occurred near Population 2. Main Roads Western Australia (MRWA) installed a fence around the population before roadworks commenced. The road work was completed in 2002 without damage to the plants.

Staff from the Department's Merredin District met a representative of MRWA in 2000 to assess the extent of erosion at Population 3 and discuss possibilities for amelioration. One option considered was the filling of the gully with rubble, but it is considered that in addition to considerable ongoing expense, the risk of damaging the plants during this work is very high. These plants are estimated to be seven years old, and have an expected lifespan of approximately ten years. Most occur near the private property fenceline and, although threatened by erosion, are likely to survive long enough to produce seed for one or two more years before reaching senescence. Hence, rather than risk damaging mature fruiting plants, it is recommended that resources be focused towards disturbance trials, to take place 'downstream' from the eroded area in the hope of stimulating germination of seed that may have washed down.

A double-sided information sheet was produced in 2002, and includes a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be distributed to community members through local libraries, wildflower shows and Regional Herbaria.

Staff from the Department's Merredin District regularly monitor all populations of this species.

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

Future recovery actions

Where populations occur on lands other than those managed by the Department, permission has been or will be sought from appropriate land managers prior to recovery actions being undertaken.

1. Coordinate recovery actions

The Merredin District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) will coordinate recovery actions for Eremophila pinnatifida ms and other Declared Rare flora in the region. They will include information on progress in their annual report to the Department's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action: Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $400 per year

2. Undertake weed control

A weed control program is required as the habitat of Populations 1 and 2 are badly infested by weeds. They impact on Eremophila pinnatifida ms by competing for resources, degrading habitat, exacerbating grazing pressure, and increasing the risk and severity of fire. Weed control will be undertaken in consultation with the land managers. This will be by hand weeding or localised application of herbicide during the appropriate season to minimise the effect of herbicide on the species and the surrounding native vegetation. 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 E. pinnatifida ms and associated native plant species.

Action: Undertake weed control
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT, relevant land managers
Cost: $1,200 per year

3. Stimulate germination of soil-stored seed

Eremophila pinnatifida ms appears to be a disturbance opportunist with a relatively short lifespan (approximately 10 years). Its seeds are contained in extremely hard fruits and it is likely that soil-stored seed is able to remain viable for a long period. An attempt to stimulate germination of soil-stored seed will be made in areas where plants previously occurred (Population 1a and in the near vicinity of Populations 2 and 3) by undertaking fire, smoke treatment and soil disturbance trials. This will be conducted in conjunction with weed control so that any E. pinnatifida ms germinants are not overwhelmed by competition. The results of trials will be monitored regularly and a report prepared on the method, timing and success of the treatment.

Action: Stimulate germination of soil-stored seed
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $4,600 in second and fifth year and $1,000 in third and fourth years

4. Achieve long-term protection of habitat

Staff from the Department's Merredin District will continue liaison with land managers and landowners to ensure that populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed. In addition, the existing negotiations to secure the area of Population 1b as a nature reserve will continue.

Action: Achieve long-term protection of habitat
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,000 per year

5. Establish nature reserve

If negotiations are successful (see 4 above) the nature reserve will need appropriate signage, rubbish removed and steps taken to restrict access to only a few tracks.

Action: Establish nature reserve
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $4 500 if land becomes a nature reserve

6. Collect seed and cutting material

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if wild populations are lost. Such collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocations. Some seed has been collected from Populations 1a and 3 but further collections are required from all populations. At this time cuttings will also be obtained to extend the genetic diversity available in the living collection at the BGPA.

Action: Collect seed and cutting material
Responsibility: The Department (TFSC, Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $3,600 in first and second years and $1,000 in subsequent years

7. Conduct further surveys

Further surveys by Departmental staff and community volunteers will be conducted during the flowering period of the species (September-January).

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,800 per year

8. Monitor populations

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

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $600 per year

9. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

Little is known about the effects of fire on this species. It is thought that it requires occasional fire for recruitment from soil-stored seed, but frequent fires may prevent the accumulation of sufficient soil-stored seed for recruitment to occur. 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 to determine fire control measures and fire frequency.

Action: Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District), relevant land managers through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,700 in second year and $600 in subsequent years

10. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Eremophila pinnatifida ms will provide a better scientific basis for its management in the wild. An understanding of the following is particularly necessary for effective management:

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

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division, Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $20,900 per year in second, third and fourth years

11. Start the translocation process

As the number of extant plants is low and populations are not secure from threats a translocation proposal will be developed and suitable translocation sites selected. This will be coordinated by the MDTFRT. Information on the translocation of threatened plants and animals in the wild is provided in the Department's Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. All translocation proposals require endorsement by the Department's Director of Nature Conservation.

Action: Start the translocation process
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division, Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $4,000 in fourth year

12. 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.

A reply paid postal drop illustrating E. pinnatifida ms and describing its distinctive features and habitat will be produced and distributed by the Department's Merredin District office to residents of Shires containing possible habitat of the species. Postal drops aim to stimulate interest, provide information about threatened species and provide a name and number to contact if new populations are found by members of the community.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: The Department (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,100 in first year, $700 in subsequent years

13. 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, if the taxon is still ranked as Critically Endangered, the need for a full Recovery Plan or a review of this IRP will be assessed and a plan prepared if necessary.

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