McCutcheon's Grevillia (Grevillia maccutcheonii) Interim Recovery Plan 2003-2008

Interim Recovery Plan No. 144
Gillian Stack, Andrew Brown 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 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 relevant land managers have been notified of the location and threatened status of the species. The notification details the Declared Threatened status of Grevillea maccutcheonii and the legal responsibility to protect it.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at Population 1a. These alert people working in the area to the presence of significant flora, helping to prevent accidental damage during maintenance operations. Awareness of the significance of these markers is being promoted to relevant bodies such as the Shire. To this end, dashboard stickers and stubby holders have been produced. These illustrate DRF markers and the need to avoid disturbance between them. An onsite meeting has been held at Population 1a with relevant road maintenance workers, a Shire representative and Blackwood District staff, at which road maintenance workers were presented with stubby holders.

The single known wild population has been fenced to protect plants from road works and grazing.

In 2001, invasive weeds were controlled by hand around Grevillea maccutcheonii by volunteers and Department staff. The paddock section of Population 1t had herbicide applied via a blanket wiper mounted on a four-wheel motorbike to control Guilford grass (Romulea sp.), which was very effective. The remaining weed species are mostly annuals which will be controlled by application of herbicide and slashing as required. The aim is to eventually smother the weed species with native vegetation.

The fence surrounding Population 1 was observed to have rusted in some sections in 2001. Rabbit activity was also observed. Repairs have been completed and 1080 poisoned oats, gassing and shooting have all been used to reduce the number of rabbits. However, rabbits continue to threaten translocated plants and further rabbit control will be undertaken.

Although disease hygiene is actively practiced during all recovery activities, dieback appears to be active in the south west corner of the Nature Reserve containing Populations 1b and 1t. The first positive Phytophthora cinnamomi result from this species was confirmed from a plant translocated into that area in 2002. Results from dieback susceptibility testing indicate the species to be moderately susceptible. Investigations into the possibility of using Restionaceae species to inhibit the spread of the disease were conducted in 2002.

The translocated plants planted in 2000 were backpack-sprayed with phosphite in February 2001. Tissue samples were obtained and analysed for phosphite concentrations in early 2002. Uptake was shown to be good, however, it is too early to judge if it is effective in controlling dieback in this species.

Fire response plans have been developed for this site and incorporated into the Fire Control Working Plan. It is also intended to inform other relevant fire fighting agencies of appropriate responses to a fire threatening the site. Firebreaks surrounding the property are maintained in good working order.

Two areas of ironstone habitat on private property were purchased by DCLM in 1999. Although degraded due to clearing for agriculture, the sites have the right soil type and are being rehabilitated using both common and critically endangered ironstone species. One site is adjacent to the natural population (Population 1a) of Grevillea maccutcheonii and has been rabbit proof fenced. The second site has been fenced with three strand wire. Both areas have been vested as Class A Nature Reserves for the purpose of conservation. The purchase of another area of private property is also in progress, further extending the potential area for future translocations.

A translocation was undertaken in 2000 with about 300 plants propagated by BGPA from seed and cuttings. These plants were translocated into the vicinity of Population 1b (Population 1t). A further 48 plants were translocated into an area of similar habitat type that had been recently purchased and vested as a Nature Reserve (Population 2t). Different treatments being trialled to improve the success rate of translocated plants include ripping and mounding, mounding, watering and shading. Control sites were also established. Problems are being experienced due to the death of translocated plants from Phytophthora infection.

Additional plantings have taken place in 2001 and 2002, extending the original translocations. In 2001 a further 176 plants were planted (147 into Population 1t and 21 into Population 2t). Jute matting was trialled to suppress weeds and conserve water with mixed success. Strong winds unpegged a number of the mats and blew them onto translocated plants, smothering them. Wind guards were also trialled but had similar problems due to unpegging and it was thought that they may also foster fungal infection. In addition to these problems, rabbits, weeds, strong winds, and inundation followed by a longer than average summer drought all contributed to deaths of translocated plants, with poor initial survival overall. Watering systems were installed at both sites, weed and rabbit control undertaken and windbreaks started in 2002 in order to address these issues.

Eight seed collections have been made from Population 1 since 1994, resulting in a total of approximately 1000 seeds in storage at DCLM's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC). Some seed has been germinated for propagation as per approved translocation proposals. Staff of the TFSC test the viability of seed soon after collection and again after one year in storage. The initial germination rate of Grevillea maccutcheonii seed ranged from 75% to 77%, and after one year in storage, the germination rate was 80% (unpublished data A. Cochrane).

The Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) currently hold fifteen plants of Grevillea maccutcheonii representing five clones. The species has been extremely variable in its propagation success rate, with strike rates ranging from 0% to 100%. This may be due in part to time of year and quality of collected material but no consistency has yet been determined (personal communication A. Shade ¹).

A double-sided information sheet has been produced, and includes a description of Grevillea maccutcheonii, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be distributed to community members through local libraries, wildflower shows and other means. An information sheet in support of landholders protecting their remnant vegetation has been produced about the values of Abba Plains vegetation by the local catchment group Geocatch with Departmental assistance. This information sheet includes details of the 'Shrublands on southern Swan Coastal Plain Ironstones' threatened ecological community and photos of Grevillea maccutcheonii and other key species. It is hoped that it and the species' information sheet will result in the discovery of new populations. A threatened flora display was operated during the Annual Busselton Wildflower Show.

Staff from DCLM's Blackwood District regularly monitor all occurrences of Grevillea maccutcheonii.

The South West Region Threatened Flora Recovery Team (SWRTFRT) is overseeing the implementation of this IRP and will include information on progress in its annual report to DCLM's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Future recovery actions

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

1. Coordination

The South West Region Threatened Flora Recovery Team (SWRTFRT) will coordinate recovery actions for Grevillea maccutcheonii and other Declared Rare flora in the region and will include information on progress in their annual report to DCLM's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action: Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $4,500 per year

2. Weed control

Following some weed control that has been done in the past the current level of threat from weeds is not high. However, if weed density increases again it will impact on G. maccutcheonii by competing for resources, degrading habitat, exacerbating grazing pressure, and increasing the risk and severity of fire. Remaining weeds are mostly annuals, and weed control will be undertaken in consultation with the land managers as needed. This will be by hand weeding or localised application of herbicide. All weed control that is undertaken will be followed by a report on the method, timing and success of the treatment and any detrimental effect on G. maccutcheonii and associated native plant species.

Action: Weed control
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $500 per year

3. Rabbit control

After some previous rabbit control the current level of threat is moderate. Populations have been surrounded by rabbit proof fences to protect them from grazing (Populations 1a, 1b, 1t and 2t). However, as rabbits are still having some impact on populations through grazing and digging they will be controlled using a variety of methods as appropriate in consultation with relevant landholders.

Action: Rabbit control
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $200 per year

4. Hygiene measures

Grevillea maccutcheonii has been shown to be moderately susceptible to Phytophthora cinnamomi. Hygiene measures (outlined in DCLM 1992a) will be adhered to wherever possible during road works, installation and maintenance of firebreaks and walking into the area of population during wet soil conditions.

Action: Implement hygiene measures
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $800 in first, third and fifth years and $400 in second and fourth years

5. Phosphite application

Grevillea maccutcheonii has been shown to be moderately susceptible Phytophthora cinnamomi. As research conducted from 1992 to 1997 indicates that phosphite application is a very effective tool in controlling the pathogen (Murray 1997) DCLM will apply phosphite to the area of populations, either by hand spraying or by aerial spraying. This action will have the added benefit of protecting a number of other threatened plant species in the threatened ecological community in which G. maccutcheonii occurs

Action: Spray phosphite
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District, Dieback Disease Coordinator) through SWRTFRT
Cost: $3,800 per year for the first, third and fifth years

6. Fire management strategy

Grevillea maccutcheonii is an opportunistic species that germinates from soil-stored seed following fire and soil disturbance. However, frequent fire will kill plants before they reach maturity and may result in the accumulation of insufficient soil stored seed for regeneration. Except for recovery purposes, fire should be excluded from the area of populations. A fire response plan developed for this site which determines fire control measures and fire frequency has been incorporated into the Blackwood District's Fire Control Working Plan. Other fire fighting agencies will be informed of appropriate responses to fire threatening this site. Firebreaks will continue to be maintained.

Action: Implement the fire management strategy
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $1,000 per year

7. Translocation

Although translocations are generally undertaken under full Recovery Plans, the threats to the small wild population of Grevillea maccutcheonii requires the implementation of a translocation proposal within the time frame of this IRP. A translocation proposal that has been prepared and implemented is being be coordinated by the KDTFRT. Information on the translocation of threatened animals and plants in the wild is provided in DCLM's Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna.

The translocation involves two sites - the first is in the vicinity of Population 1b in an area recently acquired as a Nature Reserve. The second is in a similar habitat type and is also on land recently acquired as a Nature Reserve.

The first plantings took place in 2000 with follow up plantings in 2001 and 2002. The propagation of plants for translocation will continue as necessary and additional plantings will occur in accordance with the approved Translocation Proposal. Monitoring of the translocation is essential.

Action: Continue translocations
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District, TFSC) and BGPA through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $9,500 per year

8. Habitat rehabilitation

Habitat rehabilitation at the site of Population 1b will include the planting of species native to that site with particular emphasis on species that provide habitat for pollinators. Site rehabilitation will extend beyond the current boundary of the Grevillea maccutcheonii population to control further weed invasion.

Action: Rehabilitate habitat
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $3,000 in first, second and third years and $1,000 in subsequent years

9. Seed and cuttings

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if the wild population is lost. Such collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocations. A small quantity of seed has been collected from Population 1 but further collections are required. Cuttings will also be collected and used for propagation to enhance the living collection at BGPA.

Action: Collect seed and cutting material
Responsibility: DCLM (TFSC,DCLM, Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $3,000 per year

10. Liaison

Staff from DCLM's Blackwood District will liaise with relevant land managers to ensure that populations of Grevillea maccutcheonii are not accidentally damaged or destroyed.

Action: Liaise with land managers
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $500 per year

11. Monitoring

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion and salinity), population stability (expansion or decline), pollination activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential. Competition from associated native species will also be monitored at Population 1a.

The presence and movement of Phytophthora cinnamomi will be monitored and the need for further dieback control will be assessed periodically. Monitoring will also examine the affect phosphite application, both for its control of P. cinnamomi and its impact on native species.

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $1,200 per year

12. Surveys

Although the community type in which Grevillea maccutcheonii occurs has been extensively surveyed over the last decade it is possible that additional populations of this or other threatened ironstone species may be discovered on private land. Surveys will target remnant vegetation as permission is obtained. Surveys by Departmental staff and community volunteers will be conducted during the flowering period of the species (July - November).

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $500 per year

13. Stimulate germination of soil-stored seed

Soil disturbance has been shown to be effective in stimulating the germination of soil-stored seed. When mature plants senesce, soil disturbance will be implemented to encourage recruitment.

Action: Stimulate the germination of soil-stored seed
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $200 in second and fourth years

14. Community awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of Grevillea maccutcheonii in the wild will be promoted to the general community through the local print, electronic media and poster displays. An information sheet, which includes a description of the plant, its habitat type, threats, management actions and photos, has been produced. Formal links with local naturalist groups and interested individuals will be encouraged.

Action: Promote community awareness
Responsibility: DCLM (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $600 per year

15. Obtain biological and ecological information

Better knowledge of the biology and ecology of Grevillea maccutcheonii will provide a scientific basis for management of wild populations. An understanding of the following is 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 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.
  6. The impact of dieback disease and control techniques on the species and its habitat.
  7. The impact of changes in the level of salinity on the species and its habitat.

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: DCLM (Science Division, Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $15,600 per year in the second third and fourth years

16. Review the IRP and if required update or prepare a full Recovery Plan

If Grevillea maccutcheonii is still ranked as Critically Endangered at the end of the fourth year of the five-year term of this Interim Recovery Plan, 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 IRP and if required update or prepare a full Recovery Plan
Responsibility: DCLM ( WATSCU, Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $20,300 in the fifth year (if full Recovery Plan is required)