Prostrate Flame Flower (Chorizema humile) recovery plan
- Scientific Name: Chorizema humile
- Common Name: Prostrate flame flower
- Family: PAPILIONACEAE
- Flowering Period: July - September
- DEC Region: Midwest
- DEC District: Moora
- Shires: Coorow, Carnamah, Moora
- Recovery Team: Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team
- NRM Region: Northern Agricultural
Analysis of outputs and effectiveness of IRP 31 (1999-2002): This IRP replaces IRP No. 31, prepared by Gillian Stack and Val English.
The criteria for success in the previous plan (the number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have increased) has been met, as the number of known populations in the wild has increased from three to thirteen, after extensive searches. This species is heavily influenced by environmental stress and grazing, affecting population numbers from year to year. In 1998 the number of plants was 82 but in 2006, even though the number of populations increased significantly (from three to thirteen), the number of mature plants was only 99. During this time frame the number of individual plants climbed to 1001. In 2003 when Population 8 was surveyed 740 plants were recorded but in 2006 only 3 plants could be found.
Actions carried out through the previous plan include:
- Action 3. Monitor populations
- Action 4. Conduct further surveys
- Action 5. Obtain biological and ecological information
- Action 6. Preserve genetic diversity of the taxon
- Action 7. Disseminate information
- Action 8. Start translocation process
All recovery actions included in the previous plan are either ongoing or have not yet been completed and have been included in this revised plan. New recovery actions included in this plan are to map critical habitat, liaise with relevant land managers and Indigenous groups, and seek security of tenure for populations.
Current Status: Chorizema humile was declared as Rare Flora in October 1996, and ranked as Critically Endangered (CR) in 1998 under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. It currently meets World Conservation Union (IUCN 2001) Red List Criteria Critical (CR) under criteria B1 + 2c as the thirteen populations are severely fragmented and habitat quality is poor. C. humile is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The main threats are grazing, trampling, road maintenance activities, weed competition and inappropriate fire regimes.
Description: Chorizema humile is a small, prostrate shrub to approximately 60 cm in diameter. The many slender stems are rigid with scattered hairs and radiate from a central root. The leaves are obovate and are up to 16 mm long and up to 5 mm wide, tapering at the base into a short petiole. They are arranged alternately along the stem and have a short awn-like projection at the apex. The flowers occur at the ends of the stems in racemes up to 18 cm long with up to 30 flowers in each and on stalks up to 2.5 mm long. The petals are yellow with red-brown markings. The standard petal is up to 9 mm long, the wing petals are gently curved to 8 mm long and the keel tapers to a protracted point and is almost as long as the wings. The upper lobes of the calyx join to form a lip with free tips. The calyx is hairy and tapered at the base. The style curves gently inwards.
Habitat requirements: Chorizema humile is found in red loam, brown sandy clay with decomposing granite or in clay soils, on plains in scrub or open tree mallee. Associated species include Allocasuarina campestris, Hypocalymma angustifolium and several Acacia species.
Habitat critical to the survival of the species, and important populations: Given that Chorizema humile is ranked as CR (WA), it is considered that all known habitat for wild populations is critical to the survival of the species, and that all wild populations are important populations. Habitat critical to the survival of C. humile includes the area of occupancy of populations, areas of similar habitat surrounding and linking populations, additional occurrences of similar habitat that may contain undiscovered populations of the species or be suitable for future translocations and the local catchment for the surface and/or groundwater that maintains the habitat of the species.
Benefits to other species or ecological communities: Recovery actions implemented to improve the quality or security of the habitat of Chorizema humile will also improve the status of associated native vegetation, other Declared Rare and Priority Flora, and Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs). At Population 7 the species occurs in association with the Endangered taxa Darwinia sp. Carnamah (also Endangered under EPBC Act) and the Vulnerable Plant Assemblages of the Inering Hills TEC.
International obligations: This plan is fully consistent with the aims and recommendations of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by Australia in June 1993, and will assist in implementing Australia’s responsibilities under that Convention. Chorizema humile is not listed under any specific international treaty however, and this recovery plan does not affect Australia’s obligations under any other international agreements.
Role and interests of indigenous people: The Aboriginal Sites Register maintained by the Department of Indigenous Affairs does not list any significant sites in the vicinity of populations of Chorizema humile and no Indigenous communities that may be interested or involved in the area affected by this plan have been identified. However, not all significant sites are listed on the Register. The involvement of the Indigenous community is currently being sought to determine whether there are any issues or interests identified in the Plan. If no role is identified for Indigenous communities in the recovery of this species, opportunities may exist through cultural interpretation and awareness of the species.
The advice of the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) and Department of Indigenous Affairs is being sought to assist in the identification of potential Indigenous management responsibilities for land occupied by threatened species, or groups with a cultural connection to land that is important for threatened species conservation.
Continued liaison between DEC and the Indigenous community will identify areas in which collaboration will assist implementation of recovery actions.
Social and economic impacts: The implementation of this recovery plan is unlikely to cause significant adverse social and economic impact. However, as all Chorizema humile populations occur on private property and road and Shire reserves, the protection of the species at these sites may potentially affect development and asset protection measures. Recovery actions refer to continued liaison between stakeholders with regard to populations located on private property and Shire managed lands.
Affected interests: The implementation of this plan has some implications for land managers, particularly where populations occur on lands not specifically managed for conservation. The occurrence of Chorizema humile populations on private property will have implications for the property owners. Where it occurs on road reserves under the care, control and management of the local Shire, the authority will be required to ensure protection of those populations. Recovery actions refer to continued liaison between stakeholders with regard to all of these areas.
Evaluation of the plan’s performance: DEC, in conjunction with the Moora District Threatened Flora Recovery Team, will evaluate the performance of this recovery plan. In addition to annual reporting on progress and evaluation against the criteria for success and failure, the plan will be reviewed following four years of implementation.
Completed Recovery Actions
- Populations 1, 4 and 5 and Subpopulations 3A and 3B were monitored in 2000. Roadside DRF markers were moved at Population 4 and Subpopulation 3a to include the plants occurring outside the current boundary.
- To prevent damage to plants from grazing and trampling, cages were installed over a number of individual plants at Populations 1 and 3.
- A stock-exclusion fence was erected around Subpopulation 3a in 1997. Wire netting cages were also installed over all seven Chorizema humile plants. Plants in Subpopulation 3b were also fitted with steel mesh cages.
- A five day survey for new populations of Chorizema humile was conducted in Dowerin, Goomalling and Dalwallinu, in September 2000. Nine new populations were found in the Coorow area, all on private property.
- As part of a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree at Murdoch University, a study was completed by Melanie Clinch in November 2002 entitled “The population structure of the rare plant Chorizema humile in relation to its conservation”.
- Approximately 400 seeds were collected from Population 6 in November 1999, and are being stored at -18° C in DEC’s Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC). The initial germination rate of this seed was found to vary from 50% to 80%, and after one year in storage was 100%. In November 2004, a further collection of 450 seeds was made from Population 3.
- An information sheet for Chorizema humile was produced in a joint effort with the Natural Heritage Trust and DEC.
- Chorizema humile is one of the species described in a DEC bush book entitled ‘Threatened Wildflowers of the Mid-West’ (Chant 2002).
Ongoing and future recovery actions
- Funding was acquired in 2006 through the Biodiversity Conservation Initiative scheme to support a translocation for Chorizema humile. A Translocation Proposal is currently being prepared.
- The MDTFRT will oversee the implementation of this recovery plan and will include information on progress in their annual report to DEC’s Corporate Executive and funding bodies.
- Staff from DEC’s Moora District Office regularly monitor known populations.
Recovery plan objective: The objective of this recovery plan is to abate identified threats and maintain viable in situ populations to ensure the long-term preservation of the species in the wild.
Criteria for success: The number of populations has increased and/or the number of mature individuals in populations has increased by ten percent or more over the term of the plan.
Criteria for failure: The number of populations has decreased and/or the number of mature individuals in populations has decreased by ten percent or more over the term of the plan.
- Coordinate recovery actions
- Undertake and monitor translocation
- Undertake weed control and follow-up with regular monitoring and additional control if required
- Monitor populations
- Map habitat critical to the survival of the species
- Conduct further field surveys
- Liaise with relevant land managers and Indigenous groups
- Obtain biological and ecological information
- Promote awareness
- Collect seed for long term storage and future translocation
- Seek security of tenure for populations
- Review this plan and assess the need for further recovery actions