Split-Leaved Grevillea (Grevillea althoferorum) Interim Recovery Plan 2003-2008

Interim Recovery Plan No. 129
Gillian Stack and Val English
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 ten percent or more.
Criteria for failure: The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have decreased by ten percent 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 Rare status of Grevillea althoferorum and the associated legal responsibilities.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at both populations. These serve to alert people working in the vicinity to the presence of DRF, and the need to avoid work that may damage vegetation in the area.

Research has established that sexual reproduction of this species is limited by the viability and abundance of pollen (Burne et al. in press). There is a significant difference between the two populations in the number of viable pollen grains produced, which appears to indicate a divergence in reproductive biology. Population 1 near Eneabba has an almost total absence of viable pollen and is entirely clonal, while Population 2 near Bullsbrook has a higher production of viable pollen (although still significantly lower than two closely related more common taxa), produces a small amount of seed and has the ability to resprout following fire. This research trialed the use of smoke water to stimulate germination of soil-stored seed, but no germination was recorded. However, germination trials conducted by the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC) suggest that physical nicking of the seed coat is a more important germination trigger. Seed nicking simulates the effects produced by heat of fire rather than chemicals in the smoke (personal communication A. Cochrane 1).

Genetic evidence suggests that Population 2 may also be clonal, but this has not been conclusively proven (personal communication M. Byrne). This research established that there was very little genetic diversity within each population, but substantial difference between the populations.

Sixty six seeds were collected from Population 2 during a number of visits by staff from the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre in November 1997. An initial germination rate of 50% was recorded for this seed (unpublished data A. Cochrane). There is insufficient seed to conduct any repeat testing. An additional 13 seeds were collected from 7 plants at Population 2 in January 2003. As stated above, the rate of seed production is very low at this population, and has been found to be non-existent at Population 1, where the plants are completely clonal (Burne et al. in press).

The BGPA currently have 23 plants of Grevillea althoferorum from two clones. One of the clones is sourced from cutting material taken from Population 2, and the other is from seed germinated by the TFSC during trials, also sourced from Population 2. There has been variable success with cuttings, with strike rates between 20% and 90%. It is thought that this may be at least partly attributable to the quality of propagation material (personal communication A. Shade 2). Additional plants are currently being propagated for the purposes of dieback susceptibility testing.

A double-sided information sheet was produced for this species in 2002, and includes a description of Grevillea althoferorum, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This is being distributed through local libraries, wildflower shows and other means. Staff from the Department's Moora and Perth Hills Districts regularly monitor the populations. The Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) and the Swan Region Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Team (SRTFCRT) are overseeing the implementation of this IRP and include information on progress in reports 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 Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team and the Swan Region Threatened Flora and Communities Recovery Team will continue to coordinate recovery actions for Grevillea althoferorum and other Declared Rare Flora in their jurisdictions. The highest priority will be given to eliminating impacts to existing adult plants.

They will include information on progress in their annual reports to the Department's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action: Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility: The Department (Moora and Perth Hills Districts) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Moderate
Cost: $2,000 per year

2. Rehabilitate habitat

Weeds impact on Grevillea althoferorum by competing for resources, degrading habitat, exacerbating grazing pressure, and increasing the risk and severity of fire. Weeds are a threat to Population 1. Appropriate local co-occurring species will be used to provide a buffer to weed seed being blown into this population. These plants will be placed in denuded patches surrounding the population's periphery and following their establishment weed control will be undertaken in consultation with the land managers. This will be by hand weeding or localised application of herbicide (wicking) during the appropriate season to minimise the effect of herbicide on the species and the surrounding native vegetation. All occurrences of weed control will be followed by a report on the method, timing and success of the treatment against weeds, and the effect on Grevillea althoferorum and associated native plant species.

Action: Rehabilitate habitat
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Priority: Low
Cost: $2,700 in the first year, then $700 per year thereafter

3. 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: The Department (Perth Hills and Moora Districts, WATSCU) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Moderate
Cost: $2000 in the first year

4. Implement feral animal control

Rabbits and foxes have caused major disturbance in Population 1, and control measures will be undertaken. Baiting using 1080 is likely to be the most favoured option. Baiting is generally conducted in summer and repeated each year if animals reappear. Fox baiting will be conducted in liaison with surrounding landholders to avoid risk of poisoning pets.

Action: Implement feral animal control
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Priority: High
Cost: $900 per year

5. Maintain disease hygiene

The susceptibility of Grevillea althoferorum to dieback (Phytophthora spp.) is unknown, but it is suspected to be vulnerable to the disease as this is a characteristic of many Proteaceous species. Dieback is also likely to compromise the quality of habitat. Phytophthora megasperma is known to occur very close to Population 2, and the dieback front near this population will be mapped and monitored at least every five years in summer and flagging that marks the front will be replaced regularly. Dieback hygiene (outlined in Department of Conservation and Land Management 1992b) will therefore be adhered to wherever possible for activities such as installation and maintenance of firebreaks and walking into the population in wet soil conditions. The need for dieback treatment of the site will also be assessed through evaluation of the impact of the disease on the habitat and, specifically, on Grevillea althoferorum.

Action: Maintain disease hygiene
Responsibility: The Department (Perth Hills District) through the SRTFCRT
Priority: High
Cost: $1,200 in the first year, $500 in subsequent years

6. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

Fire may stimulate the production of new clones of this species (personal communication C. Yates 3), and possibly stimulate germination of seed stored in the soil at Population 2. However, frequent fire is likely to compromise the quality of habitat as it encourages weed invasion. Field evidence from the Stirling Ranges suggests that fire also compromises the ability of many species to survive in the presence of dieback disease. A fire management strategy will be developed that will describe fire regimes and recommended intensity, and fire control measures.

Action: Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility: The Department (Moora and Perth Hills Districts District) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Moderate
Cost: $1,500 in the first year, $1,000 in subsequent years

7. Collect seed, cutting and tissue culture material

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if wild populations are lost. Such collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocation. A small quantity of seed has been collected from Population 2, and further collections will be made as seed production occurs. Population 1 is clonal and produces no seed. The genetic diversity within each population has been determined. Cuttings will be collected to maximise genetic material available for translocation. Cuttings will also be collected from Population 2.

It is hoped that cutting material will be suitable to propagate plants for translocation, but as the possibility of long-term storage of seed is severely restricted, the suitability of this species for tissue culture and subsequent cryostorage will be trialed. This cryostored material will then function to conserve the full extent of the relatively low level of genetic diversity remaining.

Action: Collect seed, cutting and tissue culture material
Responsibility: The Department (TFSC), through the Recovery Teams
Priority: High
Cost: $3,800 per year

8. Monitor populations

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

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: The Department (Moora and Perth Hills Districts) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: High
Cost: $700 per year

9. Liaise with land managers

Staff from the Department's Moora and Perth Hills Districts will continue liaising with land managers and owners of land occupied by and adjacent to populations, to ensure that populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed.

Action: Liaise with land managers
Responsibility: The Department (Moora and Perth Hills Districts) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Moderate
Cost: $800 per year

10. Conduct further surveys

Departmental staff will encourage community volunteers to be involved in further surveys to be conducted during the species' flowering period (August to early November). Likely habitat near Population 2 will be searched, with a focus on private lands between this population and the Darling Scarp, if permission can be obtained.

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: The Department (Moora and Perth Hills Districts) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Moderate
Cost: $1,800 per year

11. Undertake and monitor translocation

The two populations are completely disjunct and are biologically quite distinct, so the possibility of complete loss of either population through a single catastrophe must be minimised by translocation to other secure sites. Genetic research indicates that the two populations are substantially different, and so care will be required to prevent any mixing of genetic material from the different populations. A Translocation Proposal will be developed and suitable translocation sites selected for each District. This will be coordinated by the Recovery Teams. 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.

Monitoring of translocations is essential and will be undertaken according to the timetable that will be developed as part of the Translocation Proposal.

Action: Undertake and monitor translocation
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division), BGPA through the Recovery Teams
Priority: High
Cost: $11,000 in the first year, $12,000 subsequent years

12. Obtain biological and ecological information

Knowledge of the susceptibility of Grevillea althoferorum and its habitat to dieback disease (Phytophthora spp.) and the impact of control techniques would greatly assist the management of Population 2, as Phytopthora megasperma is known to occur in the vicinity.

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division) through SRTFCRT
Priority: Moderate
Cost: $1000 in the first year

13. 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.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: The Department (Moora and Perth Hills Districts) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Low
Cost: $300 per year

14. 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: The Department (WATSCU, Moora and Perth Hills Districts) through the Recovery Teams
Priority: Low
Cost: $20,300 in the fifth year (if full Recovery Plan required)