Slater’s Skink (Egernia slateri) recovery plan for 2005 - 2010
Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment,
Darwin, March 2005
About the plan
The NT subspecies of Slater’s Skink is listed as Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Endangered in the NT (section 29, Territory Parks and Wildlife Act 2000). The South Australian subspecies is listed as Endangered under legislation in that state (schedule 7, National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972). Slater’s Skink appears to be extinct or in greatly reduced densities in locations in the Finke and MacDonnell Ranges bioregions of the NT, where it was formerly abundant, and in northern SA. All recent records of the species are from the Finke and MacDonnell Ranges bioregions in the NT. This subspecies is also recorded from the plateau of the Bungle Bungle massif in WA, although the specific identity of the specimens from this location has recently been questioned. Population size appears to be low, although its exact size is unknown. The area of occupancy is less than 500 km2 and the distribution appears to be severely fragmented. No conservation actions have been implemented for the species to date and no management programs or recovery plans are in existence.
In the NT, Slater's Skink occurs on plains and adjacent foot-slopes of major drainages (Todd and Finke Rivers). Habitat consists of Eucalypt and Mulga woodland, open woodland, and shrubland on alluvial soils. The species burrows in soil at the base of trees and shrubs, particularly Corkwood, Hakea divaricata, and Turpentine, Eremophila sturtii. At Finke Gorge NP, Slater's Skink has been located in a range of environments including an isolated dune supporting shrubland, low rolling calcareous rises with 60% spinifex cover, and on an elevated, narrow, rocky creek-line. WA specimens were located in low open Eucalypt and Acacia woodland with spinifex (Triodia spicata) understory on shallow sandy soils. No detailed information is available on the habitat of the South Australian subspecies.
Degradation of its alluvial habitat as a result of invasion by the introduced Buffel Grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) and associated changes in fire regimes appears the most likely cause of the species' decline. In particular, the decline and disappearance of Slater's Skink from the type locality 5 km south of Alice Springs is correlated with the introduction and establishment of Buffel Grass in central Australia in the late 1960s. This weed has radically altered the vegetation structure and species composition of drainage systems in central Australia. Buffel Grass is now the dominant ground cover at the type locality and surrounding alluvial areas. However, the role of weed invasion and other potential threatening processes in the decline of Slater's Skink is yet to be conclusively established.