Narrow-petalled Featherflower (Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya) Interim Recovery Plan 2003-2008

Interim Recovery Plan no. 143
Robyn Phillimore and Rebecca Evans, July 2003
Department of Conservation and Land Management
Western Australian Threatened Species and Communities Unit (WATSCU)

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 taxon 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

Land managers have been notified of the location and threatened status of the taxon. The notification details the Declared Rare status of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya and the legal responsibility to protect it.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at Populations 2 and 5, and Subpopulation 7a. 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.

Concrete bollards were placed around the single plant at Population 4 to protect it from being trampled.

Private property containing Population 6 of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya was purchased by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure in 2002. This land will eventually be transferred to the Conservation Commission.

Numerous surveys for this taxon have been undertaken in the Bullsbrook and Serpentine areas by Departmental staff and volunteers.

There has been no recent seed or cuttings material collected for Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya. Some material was collected in 1995 by the TFSC and germination material forwarded to the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority. However, as locational information for this population was incorrect, the material collected was actually V. densiflora var. densiflora. There is some evidence that an early unofficial collection of V. plumosa var. pleiobotrya was made from Population 2 by local enthusiasts. Some of this material has appeared as a ornamental garden plant in some nurseries (personal communication N. Skade).

Weed control and phosphite spraying has been undertaken at Population 2 by the Shire of Serpentine - Jarrahdale, Jarrahdale Land Conservation District Committee (LCDC) and the Roadside Care Volunteers.

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

Staff from the Department's Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts regularly monitor populations of this taxon.

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 Swan Region Threatened Flora Recovery Team (SRTFRT) will continue to coordinate recovery actions for Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya and other Declared Rare Flora in their 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 (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFRT
Cost: $1,600 per year.

2. 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 Swan Coastal Districts, WATSCU) through the SRTFRT
Cost: $2000 in the first year

3. 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. Seed is required from all populations to maximise the genetic diversity of the ex situ material. Cuttings will also be obtained to establish a living collection at the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA).

Action: Collect seed and cutting material
Responsibility: The Department (TFSC) and BGPA, through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $4,200 in first year and $2,800 in second and third years.

4. Install Declared Rare Flora markers

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers are required for road reserve Subpopulations 6c, 6d and 7a, and on the firebreak for Subpopulations 6a, 6b and 7b. Their purpose is to alert people operating in the area to the presence of DRF and to help prevent habitat disturbance. Markers installed at Population 2 are in the wrong position and need to be moved approximately 300 m to the east.

Action: Install DRF markers
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal District) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $700 in first year.

5. Undertake weed control

Weed control will be undertaken in consultation with the land managers. Appropriate methods of weed control are found in Brown and Brooks (2002) and may include hand weeding or localised application of herbicide. 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 Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya and associated native plant species. It is anticipated that native species in the habitat will regenerate after weed competition is removed.

Action: Undertake weed control
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $800 per year.

6. Fence Populations 5 and 7b

Agreement will be sought to fence Subpopulation 7b on private land including a buffer of surrounding habitat, to protect Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya from grazing by horses. Funding assistance for this fencing may be obtained through the Remnant Vegetation Protection Scheme as part of the covenanting process. In addition a barrier, such as bollards or stakes, will be erected along the road adjacent to Population 5 to prevent vehicles driving through the reserve.

Action: Fence Populations 5 and 7b
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal District) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $1,400 in first year.

7. Conduct further surveys

The taxon is known from two areas in Bullsbrook and Serpentine, and it is possible that there are additional populations between the sites. Further surveys will be conducted for this taxon during its flowering period (October to November) in appropriate habitat, including on private lands wherever possible. Volunteers from the local community, Wildflower Societies and Naturalist Clubs will be encouraged to be involved in surveys supervised by Departmental staff. In particular, if permission for access is obtained, a possible new population of this taxon on private property near Southern River will be surveyed and the taxon identity confirmed. Areas considered suitable for translocation will also be noted.

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $1,300 per year.

8. Stimulate the germination of soil-stored seed

Burning, smokewater and soil disturbance may be effective in stimulating the germination of soil-stored seed. These trials will be conducted near existing populations in areas newly cleared of weeds, and/or in areas where Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya was known to occur previously. After treatment, annual monitoring will include recording the time when flowering first occurs, seed is produced and the age at which of senescence is reached. This will enable formulation of a recommended interval time between disturbances to maintain populations.

Action: Stimulate the germination of soil-stored seed
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $3,400 in second, third and fourth years.

9. Rehabilitate habitat

Habitat of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya will be rehabilitated by re-introduction of endemic plant species at Subpopulations 6a, 6b and 7b.

Action: Rehabilitate habitat
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal District) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $2,400 in first, second and third years.

10. Develop and implement a drainage management strategy

A drainage control strategy for the habitat of Subpopulations 6d and 7a will be developed and implemented in liaison with relevant stakeholders including the Water Corporation and local Shire.

Action: Develop and implement a drainage management strategy
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal District) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: To be determined

11. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

The response of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya to fire is not known; however, Verticordia species are thought to be killed by fire and regenerate from soil-stored seed. Fire will 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 that recommends fire frequency, intensity, season, and control measures.

Action: Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $2,500 in first year and $1,000 in subsequent years.

12. Control rabbits

Populations 5 and 6 are affected by rabbits. Although there is no evidence of grazing on the plants themselves, young shoots are extremely vulnerable to grazing. In addition, the soil is being disturbed, and this combined with the increased nutrient levels and the presence of weed seed in their droppings is increasing weed invasion in the habitat. Baiting will be undertaken in and around these areas.

Action: Control rabbits
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal District) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $600 in first, second and third years.

13. Implement disease hygiene measures

It is necessary to maintain disease hygiene measures, to reduce the likelihood of introducing or amplifying the impacts of the disease in the habitat of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya. Dieback hygiene measures, including restricting access wherever possible, and placing signage, will be implemented.

Action: Implement disease hygiene measures
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $1,000 in the first year

14. Apply phosphite and monitor effects

Phosphite will be applied to areas where dieback is present and has the potential to threaten the Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya. The impact of the application of phosphite on the taxon and in the control of Phytophthora sp. will be monitored.

Action: Apply phosphite and monitor effects
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts, Dieback Disease Coordinator) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $700 per year

15. Monitor populations

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion and plant diseases), population stability (expansion or decline), pollination activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential. All populations will be inspected annually with special attention given to any impacts from increased salinisation. In areas that are possibly under threat from salinisation, soil salinity and pH readings will be taken annually during winter.

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $900 per year.

16. Seek improved security for populations

Staff from the Department's Perth Coastal District will continue to liaise with land managers and landowners to ensure that populations are not accidentally damaged or destroyed. Owners of land adjacent to Population 2, and Subpopulations 6c and 6d, located on road reserves have not been notified of the presence of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya.

Habitat around Population 4 may be impacted by clearing for cemetery purposes. The Perth Hills District will liaise with the Shire to seek protection of the population.

Ways and means of improving the security of populations and their habitat will be investigated. For Population 7b, that occurs on private property, this may include conservation covenants with a range of agencies, the Land for Wildlife scheme, or possibly acquisition.

Action: Seek improved security for populations
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $700 per year.

17. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of this taxon 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. An information sheet, which includes a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos will be produced.

A reply paid postal drop of a pamphlet that illustrates Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya and describes its distinctive features and habitat will be distributed to residents in Shires that contain possible habitat for the taxon. Postal drops aim to stimulate interest, provide information about threatened species and provide a name and number to contact if new populations are located by members of the community.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: The Department (Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $2,100 in first year and $700 in second year and $600 in remaining years.

18. Re-evaluate taxonomy

The taxon is one of seven varieties of the species Verticordia plumosa. There is some debate as to the separation of these varieties and the taxonomy will be re-evaluated following recent collections of these varieties. This may include genetic work, if required.

Action: Re-evaluate taxonomy
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $10,000 in first year

19. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya will provide a better scientific basis for management of the wild populations. 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 pollination biology of the taxon, and the requirements of pollinators.
  3. The reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth of the taxon.
  4. The population genetic structure, levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.
  5. The impact of salinity on Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya and its habitat.
  6. Investigation of the impacts of dieback disease and control techniques on Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya and its habitat.

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division, Swan Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $18,200 per year for the first three years.

20. 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, the need for further recovery will be assessed.

Action: Review the need for a full Recovery
Responsibility: The Department (WATSCU, Swan Perth Coastal and Perth Hills Districts) through the SRTFCRT
Cost: $22,900 in the fifth year (if required).