Hypolepis distans (Scrambling Ground-fern)

Advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on Amendments to the list of Threatened Species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)

1. Scientific name, common name (where appropriate), major taxon group

Hypolepis distans (Scrambling Ground-fern)

2. National Context

The species is restricted in Australia to Tasmania (including King Island). It also occurs naturally in New Zealand and the Chatham Islands. The species is currently listed as vulnerable under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and is expected to be proposed for listing as endangered in Tasmania. It is not listed under the EPBC Act.

3. How judged by TSSC in relation to the EPBC Act criteria.

TSSC judges the species to be eligible for listing as endangered under the EPBC Act. The justification against the criteria is as follows:

Criterion 1 - Decline in numbers

There is no quantitative data available against this criterion.

Criterion 2 - Geographic distribution

The geographic distribution is precarious for the survival of the species and is restricted. The extent of occurrence is 1215km2 and the area of occupancy is 1.92ha. The species is known from a total of three populations and ongoing decline is projected in the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, area, extent and quality of habitat, the number of populations and number of mature individuals due to agricultural clearing.

Therefore, the species is eligible for listing as endangered under this criterion.

Criterion 3 - Population size and decline in numbers or distribution

The total number of mature individuals recorded in Tasmania is potentially very low, there being 10 mature individuals apart from the King Island population for which population data has not been able to be collected. Ongoing decline is projected in the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, area, extent and quality of habitat, the number of populations and number of mature individuals due to agricultural clearing. A complete assessment against this criterion will not be possible until further data pertaining to the size of the population on King Island is available.

Therefore, the species is not eligible for listing under this criterion.

Criterion 4 - Population size

The total number of mature individuals recorded in Tasmania is potentially extremely low, there being 10 mature individuals apart from the King Island population for which population data has not been able to be collected. A complete assessment against this criterion will not be possible until further data pertaining to the size of the population on King Island is available.

Therefore, the species is not eligible for listing under this criterion.

Criterion 5 - Probability of extinction in the wild

There is no quantitative data available against this criterion.

4. Conclusion

The species has a very restricted geographic distribution that is precarious to the survival of the species, the area of occupancy being 192ha and extent of occurance 1215km2. It is known from three populations and is projected to experience ongoing declines in the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, area, extent and quality of habitat, the number of populations and the number of mature individuals due to agricultural clearing. The species is eligible for listing as endangered.

5. Recommendation

TSSC recommends that the list referred to in section 178 of the EPBC Act be amended by
including in the list in the endangered category:

Hypolepis distans (Scrambling Ground-fern)