Small-flowered Snottygobble (Personia micranthera) Interim Recovery Plan 2003-2008

Interim Recovery Plan No. 145
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

Stirling Range National Park Rangers are aware of the threatened nature of the species and of its location.

To control the pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi in the eastern Stirling Range aerial spraying of phosphite commenced in Autumn 1997 with Populations 1 and 3 sprayed that year. Monitoring of the impact of phosphite applications at Population 3 between 1997 and 2000 showed 100% survival of plants. Note: survival was also high in the three control quadrats (90%). Due to the continuing threat from P. cinnamomi these areas will continue to be sprayed at regular intervals through the DCLM's phosphite program.

There are currently no seed collections of Persoonia micranthera at either DCLM's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC) or the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA). Although there have been several attempts to collect seed, none was found.

Cuttings were collected in 1999 and 2000 by Sarah Barrett and given to the BGPA who currently have 40 plants of Persoonia micranthera from 11 clones. Results of propagation have been extremely variable, ranging from 0 to 100% (personal communication- A. Shade). Tissue culture trials have also been conducted by BGPA staff, but unfortunately these attempts were unsuccessful.

Monitoring of all populations is conducted by staff from DCLM's Albany Work Centre and is ongoing. The effectiveness of phosphite application is being monitored at Population 1a, 1d and Population 3.

A draft Interim Recovery Plan (IRP) has been written by Sarah Barrett for the Critically Endangered TEC (Eastern Stirling Range Montane Heath and Thicket Community), in which Persoonia micranthera occurs. This Threatened Ecological Community IRP outlines recovery actions for many of the same threatening processes that are affecting Persoonia micranthera and both IRPs should be taken into account when recovery actions are implemented.

The Albany District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (ADTFRT) is overseeing the implementation of recovery actions prescribed in this IRP, and will include information on progress in its annual report to DCLM's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Future recovery actions

1. Coordination

The Albany District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (ADTFRT) is coordinating recovery actions for Persoonia micranthera and other Declared Rare flora in the District. The team includes information on progress in their annual report to DCLM's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action: Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility: DCLM (Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $400 per year

2. Phytophthora

Persoonia micranthera and the plant community in which it grows are both severely impacted by dieback (Phytophthora cinnamomi). DCLM will continue applying phosphite to these areas, an action that will have the added benefit of protecting a number of other threatened plant species.

Action: Phytophthora control
Responsibility: DCLM (Albany Work Centre, Dieback Disease Coordinator) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $31,000 per year

3. Fire management strategy

Inappropriate fire is known to have a severe impact on Persoonia micranthera. Fire kills adult plants and frequent fire may result in insufficient seed being produced for successful regeneration. Fire should if possible 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: DCLM (Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $1,600 in the second year and $300 in subsequent years

4. Monitoring

Annual monitoring of factors such as the impact of pathogens, especially Phytophthora, and the success or otherwise of Phosphite application, habitat degradation, population stability (expansion or decline), pollination biology, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential. Herbivores, which graze on young plants, are also having a minor impact on some populations of Persoonia micranthera and continued monitoring is needed to assess if action is required in the future.

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: DCLM (Albany Work Centre), through the ADTFRT
Cost: $6,700 per year

5. Surveys

Although the species has been thoroughly surveyed, additional plants may have germinated following recent fires in the Stirling Range and further surveys by Departmental staff and community volunteers may be worthwhile during the flowering period of the species (February to March).

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: DCLM (Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $2,100 per year if required

6. Seed and cutting collection

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if wild populations are lost. Collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocations. However, as most extant plants have been too immature to produce flowers and fruit, there is currently no seed of Persoonia micranthera in DCLM's TFSC. Eleven plants are currently represented in the BGPA's nursery, and cuttings will continue to be collected from as many plants as possible to maximize the available genetic diversity. Some in situ plants are now starting to flower, and if fruits are set, seed will be collected according to the usual protocols (eg, collecting a small proportion of available seed) at that time.

Action: Collect seed and cutting material
Responsibility: DCLM (TFSC, Albany Work Centre), BGPA through the ADTFRT
Cost: $2,500 per year for the first three years

7. Propagation

The propagation of plants for future translocation is essential as the species is in serious decline in the wild. Although a translocation proposal has not yet been developed, propagation should commence immediately due to the slow growing nature of the species. Collection of seed and cutting material is covered in recovery action 6.

Action: Propagate plants for translocation
Responsibility: BGPA, DCLM (Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $3,900 per year in the second and third years

8. Translocation

As the number of mature extant plants is low and populations are highly vulnerable to current threats a translocation proposal will be developed and coordinated by the ADTFRT. Translocation is likely to be a restocking of existing populations or the establishment of a seed orchard outside the Stirling Range, rather than an introduction to a new site in the Range as no suitable sites are known to exist that are Phytophthora cinnamomi free.

Information on the translocation of threatened plants and animals in the wild is provided in DCLM's Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. All translocation proposals require endorsement by DCLM's Director of Nature Conservation. Monitoring of the translocation is essential and will be undertaken according to the timetable developed for the Translocation Proposal.

Action: Develop and implement a translocation proposal
Responsibility: DCLM (Science Division, Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $4,000 in the fourth year and $8,700 in the fifth year

9. Biology and ecology

Better knowledge of the biology and ecology of Persoonia micranthera will provide a scientific basis for management of wild populations. An understanding of the following is necessary for effective management:

  1. The pollination biology of the species.
  2. The requirements of pollinators.
  3. The soil seed bank dynamics and the role of various disturbances (including fire), competition, rainfall and grazing in germination and recruitment.
  4. The 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 Persoonia micranthera and its habitat.
  7. The impact of frequent fire on Persoonia micranthera and its habitat.

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: DCLM (Science Division, Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $18,300 per year in the second, third and fourth years

10. Community awareness

Bushwalkers, researchers and other visitors may inadvertently damage plants of Persoonia micranthera that are close to the track through trampling or the introduction of disease. This may minimised by providing all visitors with information on the need to protect the habitat. A review of the 'code of conduct' for backpacking in the Stirling Range National Park is provided in the IRP for the Stirling Range Montane Heath and Thicket Community.

It is important that biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of Persoonia micranthera be promoted to the community through appropriate media. Formal links with local naturalist groups and interested individuals will also be encouraged. An information sheet, which includes a description of the plant, its habitat type, threats and management actions will be produced.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: DCLM (Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $2000 in first year and $400 in subsequent years

11. Recovery Plan

If the taxon 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 need for a revised IRP or full Recovery Plan and prepare if necessary
Responsibility: DCLM (WATSCU, Albany Work Centre) through the ADTFRT
Cost: $20,300 in the fifth year (if full Recovery Plan is required)