Quartz-loving synaphea (Synaphea quartzitica) interim recovery plan 2003-2008

Interim recovery plan no. 128
Gillian Stack and Val English
Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia, January 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 Synaphea quartzitica and the legal responsibility to protect it.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at Population 2. These serve to alert people working in the vicinity to the presence of DRF, and the need to avoid work that may damage plants or their habitat. Dashboard stickers and posters describing the significance of DRF markers have been produced and distributed.

The area of Population 1 supports an unusual habitat that is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community. The community contains populations of an additional two taxa of Declared Rare Flora - Acacia aristulata and Daviesia dielsii (ranked Endangered and Vulnerable respectively). The Department is in the process of acquiring this area through negotiations with stakeholders, with the ultimate goal of having this area declared an A Class Nature Reserve. Staff of the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC) attempted to collect seed in 1997 and again in 1998, without much success. Like most Synaphea species, Synaphea quartzitica sets almost no viable seed. The single seed collected germinated, but the seedling died before reaching maturity (personal communication A. Cochrane ¹).

Growth of Synaphea quartzitica from cuttings has not yet been attempted. Some Synaphea spinulosa plants have been successfully grown from cuttings by the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) nursery, despite an extremely low strike rate. BGPA staff have also successfully grown Synaphea stenoloba in tissue cultured.

A double-sided information sheet was produced in 2002, and includes a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos.

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

Detailed investigations have been undertaken into the species' population sizes, reproductive biology and growth rates (Harding and Lamont 2001).

The Moora 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.

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

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 (MDTFRT) will continue to coordinate recovery actions for Synaphea quartzitica and other Declared Rare Flora in the district. 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 (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $400 per year

2. Preserve genetic diversity of the species

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if wild populations are lost. Such collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocations. Despite several attempts to collect seed of Synaphea quartzitica, none has been stored due to its extremely low rate of seed set. It will therefore be necessary to preserve the genetic diversity of this species through the use of other techniques such as cuttings, tissue culture and maintenance of living plants in cultivation. There is currently no germplasm of this species held in storage.

Action: Preserve genetic diversity of the species
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District), BGPA through MDTFRT
Cost: $6,100 per year in first, second and third years

3. Undertake hand-pollination trials

Harding and Lamont (2001) found that pollen transfer was the major factor limiting seed set in this species. Seed-set in many Proteaceous species is naturally low, but is likely to be limiting the resilience of this species. Hand-pollination of flowers will be trialed to ascertain whether this will increase the level of viable seed set. Reproduction by seed provides greater genetic diversity than is possible by vegetative means, and should be fostered if possible. Greater genetic diversity provides the species with greater ability to deal with change.

Action: Undertake hand-pollination trials
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,500 in second, third and fourth years

4. Undertake disturbance and watering trials

The occurrence of greater numbers of plants near tracks in Watheroo National Park suggests that disturbance and/or moisture levels are a factor in germination. Disturbance and watering trials will be conducted to assess the germination response of soil-stored seed.

Action: Undertake disturbance and watering trials
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,500 in third, fourth and fifth years

5. Install Declared Rare Flora markers

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers are required for Populations 3 and 4 that occur in Watheroo National Park. Their purpose is to alert people operating in the area (e.g. the Department's operational staff, the Bush Fire Brigade and Shire staff and contractors) to the presence of DRF to help prevent accidental damage.

Action: Install DRF markers
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $400 in first year

6. Control rabbits

Population 1 is affected by rabbits. There is evidence of grazing on the plants themselves, and young shoots are extremely vulnerable to grazing. In addition, the soil is being disturbed by rabbit warren construction, and this combined with the increased nutrient levels and the presence of weed seed in their droppings is introducing weeds into the habitat. Baiting will be undertaken in and around this area.

Action: Control rabbits
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,100 per year in second and third years

7. Seek to transfer care, control and management of habitat of Population 1

Negotiations into transferring the care control and management of the habitat of Population 1 to the Conservation Commission for the purpose of conservation are well advanced. These negotiations will continue.

Action: Seek to transfer care, control and management of habitat of Population 1
Responsibility: The Department (Land Administration, Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $500 in second year

8. Conduct further surveys

Further surveys will be conducted for this species during its flowering period (July-August) in appropriate habitat in Watheroo National Park, and on private lands wherever possible. For example, an area of private property adjacent to Population 1 has been identified as suitable habitat. Areas considered suitable for translocation will also be noted. Volunteers from the local community, Wildflower Societies and Naturalist Clubs will be encouraged to be involved in surveys supervised by CALM staff.

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $2,400 per year in second and fourth years

9. Monitor populations

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion, plant diseases such as Phytophthora cinnamomi and salinity), population stability (expansion or decline), pollinator activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential. For Populations 2, 3 and 4, monitoring will include inspection of the visibility of DRF markers. The paint on markers may become dull with time, or vegetation growth may obscure markers, rendering them ineffective.

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $500 per year

10. Liaise with land managers

Staff from the Department's Moora District will continue liaising with National Park rangers and others to ensure that populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed by operational staff from the Department, Bush Fires Brigade, Shire or other groups.

Action: Liaise with land managers
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $700 per year

11. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Synaphea quartzitica 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), competition, rainfall and grazing in germination and recruitment.
  2. The identity and requirements of pollinators.
  3. The reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth of the species.
  4. The population genetic structure, levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.

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

12. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

S. quartzitica can resprout from root suckers, and this may help plants survive disturbances such as fire. There may also be some recruitment from soil-stored seed. However, frequent fires may be detrimental to the long-term survival of the species, through depletion of lignotuber reserves. Fire also promotes the introduction of weed species, degrading associated habitat.

A fire management strategy will be developed in consultation with relevant parties to determine recommendations for fire intensity and frequency and fire control measures.

Action: Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility: The Department (Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $2,600 in first year and $1,000 in subsequent years

13. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of Synaphea quartzitica 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 S. quartzitica and describing its distinctive features and habitat will be produced and distributed by the Department's Moora 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 (Moora District, Corporate Relations) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $1,100 in first and second years and $700 in subsequent years

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 (WA Threatened Species and Communities Unit, Moora District) through the MDTFRT
Cost: $20,300 in fifth year (if full RecoveryPlan required)