Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch WA 6150
Forest certification is encouraging Australian plantation companies to manage biodiversity within their
estates. This generally requires protecting and managing the native forest and woodland remnants as
they provide important habitat for fauna and flora in a plantation landscape. However, many remnants
have been degraded by soil nutrient enrichment and weed invasion, and so support less native
biodiversity. We investigated the suitability of a range of chemical and biological measures to monitor
the condition of the soil in woodland remnants so that the degradation process, as well as the
effectiveness of restoration treatments, could be quantitatively assessed. The remnants were within
Eucalyptus globulus plantations from south western Western Australia. Small-scale, short-term trials
were conducted: clearing, artificial fertilisation and assisting weed invasion were used in the
degradation trial; herbicides (glyphosate and simazine) and mulching with plantation harvest residue
were used in the restoration trial. Soil potassium, ammonium and nitrate content, basal respiration and
β- glucosidase activity showed potential to detect changes in soils caused by these treatments. Effects
were evaluated by comparison with reference sites: intact native woodland (undisturbed reference) and
pasture (disturbed reference). Fertilisation, both alone and with grass invasion, but not clearing or grass
alone, had negative effects on soil properties after only a few months in a degradation trial. Glyphosate,
but not mulching, significantly improved the condition of the soil in restoration trial. We demonstrated
that the combination of a few chemical and biological soil properties can be used for quantitative and
sensitive monitoring of the in condition native woodland remnants.
Adaptive genetic diversity among Tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala)
populations and implications for ecological restoration
, Siegy Krauss
, Ann Smithson
and Erik Veneklaas
1. School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia
2. Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue, West Perth WA 6005.
3. Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health
Tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) is a forest and woodland tree that occurs exclusively on the Swan
Coastal Plain of Western Australia. Tuart communities are of high ecological and conservation value, but
widespread canopy decline and clearing has required significant restoration efforts. Tuart populations
only mass-flower every 5-8 years, which makes local collection of ample seeds difficult year after year. It
has been advocated that, rather than a strict maintenance of local provenance, seeds should be
collected more widely to increase genetic diversity, equipping populations with the variation to adapt to
environmental change. While this may avoid some problems associated with exclusive local provenance
collections, it is known that neutral genetic markers are not adequate predictors of ‘adaptability’ because
they do not occur in functional genes.
For this reason, we have developed functional genetic markers for Eucalyptus (EST-SSRs) that are
homologous with candidate genes for flowering, pathogen defence and other processes that are likely to
be important for adaptation to environmental change. These functional markers, as well as neutral
markers, are being screened among natural populations to detect functional versus neutral Tuart
population genetic structure and diversity. We are coupling this research with a field-based reciprocal
transplant trial, which after one year has not revealed significant local adaptation for seed emergence,
seedling survival or growth among six Tuart provenances. Visual condition scores, however, have
indicated that northern provenances were less stressed following summer than southern provenances.
Implications of these results for seed collection and Tuart restoration will be discussed.
CSIRO Plant Industry PO Box 1600, Canberra ACT 2601, Email: Linda.Broadhurst@csiro.au
Restoring landscapes with high quality, genetically diverse seed is critical for ensuring that these new
populations have the genetic arsenal required to meet the challenges of rapidly changing environments.
Australian Network for Plant Conservation 8
Several stages during the restoration process have the potential to inadvertently create genetic
low genetic base may lead to inbreeding and poor quality seed. Space and resource limitation in a
production nursery may also reduce levels of genetic diversity available for planting which in the longer
term, as these seedlings become reproductive adults, may be even further eroded by mate-limitation
and increased selfing. Under these circumstances the long term persistence of these populations is
likely to be limited. Each of these possible scenarios was investigated in yellow box (Eucalyptus
Data regarding the genetic diversity in seed collections, seedlings grown through a production nursery,
and that being produced by restored populations will be presented and discussed.
Managing Geraldton Carnation Weed (Euphorbia terracina), in the
woodlands, wetlands and heathlands of the Swan Coastal Plain
Kate Brown, Julia Cullity, Grazyna Paczkowska and Karen Bettink,
Department of Environment and Conservation, Swan Region, PO Box 1167, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983.
Geraldton Carnation Weed (Euphorbia terracina), an invasive perennial herb, is a major threat to
remnant woodlands, wetlands and heathlands of the Swan Coastal Plain. A series of studies over the
last 5 years have monitored the effectiveness of established control methods, investigated more
effective alternatives as well as studying the resilience and recovery of invaded plant communities. Work
has focused on sites of high conservation value where invasion by Geraldton Carnation Weed is a key
In threatened sedgelands that occur in Holocene dune swales at Point Becher near Rockingham, south
of Perth, trials were carried out with the herbicide Logran® at 12.5g/100L. Cover of Geraldton Carnation
Weed decreased significantly in the first year and went from an average of 19.2 % in 2005 before
treatment, to less than 0.4% in 2008. Concurrently there was an increase in the cover of native species
particularly the sedge Ficinia nodosa and the rush Baumea juncea. In July 2009 similar trials were
established in comparatively species rich coastal heathlands north of Perth and preliminary results will
Work at Paganoni Swamp has focused on monitoring the effectiveness of established control methods
to prevent spread of Geraldton Carnation Weed into one of the most significant conservation reserves in
the metropolitan region south of the Swan River. The 700 hectare site protects a mosaic of Tuart
/Banksia Woodlands and low-lying wetlands. The results of this work will be presented.
In addition to these studies, as part of a strategic management approach, a regional plan focusing on
gaining an understanding of the distribution of Geraldton Carnation Weed and protecting key biodiversity
sites from invasion has been produced.
University of Western Australia, Crawley WA 6009
The Wheatbelt Orchid Rescue (WOR) project is a Lotterywest funded collaboration between the WA
Native Orchid Study and Conservation Group (WANOSCG), the WA Department of Environment and
Conservation, the Friends of Kings Park and the University of Western Australia. This project is helping
to conserve endangered orchids in the WA wheatbelt by obtaining knowledge required for sustainable
management and directly contributing to recovery actions. Surveys utilizing WANOSCG members
provided accurate population and habitat size data for the Granite Spider, Ballerina, William’s Spider,
Lonely Hammer and Underground Orchids (Caladenia graniticola, C. melanema, C. williamsiae,
Drakaea isolata, Rhizanthella gardneri). Permanent transects measured annual fluctuations in emergent
orchids and threats to populations. Numbers of plants that emerge and flower varied substantially from
year to year, as rates of pollination (0-85%) and grazing (5-50%) varied with species and habitat. Key
threats to these orchids include very small habitat areas, herbivory, infrequent pollination and salinity.
Knowledge gained is being used to update recovery plans and guide conservation actions.
Seed baiting experiments, where orchid seeds germinate over soil organic matter, identified potential
orchid habitats and investigated the role of mycorrhizal fungi. Research in terrestrial orchid seed
germination resulted in a new method for non-sterile seedling production that was more rapid and
efficient than germination in sterile culture. “Translocation pouches” were designed to protect tiny
seedlings during acclimation in the incubator nursery or field. It is anticipated that more efficient
production of orchid seedlings will facilitate translocation programs for endangered species and result in
a better understanding of orchid seedling growth and nutrition. Translocation trials with seedlings of rare
and common orchids are underway.
Biotechnology and conservation of critically endangered plants in a
biodiverse region – the south west of Western Australia
Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue, West Perth WA 6005
The unique flora of the South West Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR) - a recognized world plant
biodiversity hotspot - with over 7000 indigenous taxa and high endemism (~ 50 %) has undergone
considerable anthropogenic alteration of the landscape post-European settlement. Extensive clearing for
agriculture, weed and feral animal incursions in the SWAFR have impacted severely on natural
ecosystem services and most declared endangered flora (DRF) are from this region. Of a total of some
2,800 Western Australian species requiring conservation over 400 DRF are gazetted for Western
Australia, of which approximately 120 are critically endangered (CR). Climatic change (including
decreasing rainfall) is already impacting on the SWAFR incurring additional stresses on a region already
under pressure. Biotechnology is playing a key role in the fight to save endangered species threatened
with imminent extinction. Conservation research can draw on molecular, in vitro and cryogenic
technologies to achieve this. In emergency situations remaining individual plants of endangered species
can be micropropagated and maintained ex situ permanently in culture collections and/or cryopreserved.
Genetic fingerprinting technology can be harnessed to identify key genotypes for in vitro
culture/cryopreservation that can ensure sufficient genetic representation for restoration sites and also
provide early warning of inbreeding depression among offspring in repatriated populations. Bridging
between biotechnology and conservation has the potential to save many critically endangered plants in
a biodiverse region such as the SWAFR, as has been demonstrated with a number of CR taxa to date.
Weighing up the numbers: case studies in the use of numerical taxonomy
for resolving conservation-listed taxa in south-west Western Australia
Ryonen Butcher, Rob Davis, Neil Gibson and Juliet Wege
Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983
The South-West Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR) is renowned for its floral biodiversity and the high
degree of endemism of its species, many of which have evolved relatively recently. Just over 8,000
native plant taxa occur in the SWAFR, approximately 24% of which are conservation-listed.
Approximately 14% of these conservation-listed taxa have not yet been formally described and named,
with the majority lacking descriptive and ecological information essential for their management.
While some informally-named taxa are relatively distinctive, many fall within difficult complexes where
taxonomic boundaries are defined by subtle differences in morphology or unique combinations of
characters, and are obscured by continuous or overlapping measurement values and intra-taxon
polymorphism. Where the intricate associations between taxa are difficult to unravel using traditional
taxonomic approaches, numerical taxonomy can be employed to objectively assess the utility of
characters for defining and discriminating taxa, and to identify groups of samples which may be discrete
entities. Numerical taxonomic methods range from simple analyses of variance in key characters within
and between taxa through to multivariate morphometric analyses, where cluster analysis and ordination
can be used to reduce complex patterns of morphological variation within and between taxa into more
easily interpretable graphical representations of similarity.
This talk will provide an overview of how numerical taxonomy (especially morphometric analysis) has
been employed within the Western Australian Herbarium for investigating putatively new, or poorly
defined, conservation taxa in Marianthus (Pittosporaceae), Ptilotus (Amaranthaceae), Synaphea
(Proteaceae) and Tetratheca (Elaeocarpaceae). The conservation outcomes of each study will be
Restoring and maintaining genetic connections in a landscape context
Margaret Byrne, Colin Yates, David Coates, Carole Elliott, Neil Gibson, Jane Sampson and Melissa
Science Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA
Gene flow among populations is a fundamental evolutionary process for maintenance of genetic
continued genetic connectivity within a species in a given landscape. Landscape design configurations
that maximise genetic connectivity will enhance ecological process and landscape functioning thus
contributing to persistence of populations within fragmented landscapes.
Recent studies on pollen dispersal have demonstrated significant gene flow across the landscape for
many species. Paternity assignment has shown that up to 65% of seed can be sired by pollen
immigration from plants outside the population. This pollen dispersal has been recorded over distances
of up to 5 km in south-western Australia. Pollen dispersal studies show that genetic connectivity can be
maintained in fragmented landscapes, and that small remnant populations and paddock trees make
important contributions to genetic connectivity. Knowledge of pollen dispersal patterns can be used in
landscape design for configuration of populations that maximise genetic connectivity.
Maintenance of gene flow across the landscape is an important consideration for restoration programs,
but may not always be beneficial. Extensive pollen dispersal can be detrimental when it involves a
source of foreign genes in the landscape, such as plantings that use non-local but related taxa. Such
activities should be conducted within a risk management framework to ensure that these programs
achieve rehabilitation outcomes without negative impacts on remnant patches of biodiversity.
Temperature is arguably one of the most important climatic variables influencing seeds and seedlings
since it synchronises germination to environmental conditions most suitable for seedling establishment.
Germination is an important life history phase for obligate seeding species, and failure to germinate after
disturbance events may mean local population extinction. Seeds will germinate over a range of
temperatures, with thresholds above and below which little or no germination will occur. Under climate
warming scenarios temperatures are forecast to rise between 2-5
C. If species have specific
temperatures seeds experience and temperatures over which germination is able to occur. Such a
mismatch in the germination niche of obligate seeding species could render them vulnerable to decline
Using a temperature gradient plate more than 45 Western Australian native species were temperature
profiled for germination. Some geographically restricted species were found to have wide thermal
tolerance for germination, suggesting that temperature for germination is not a constraining factor to
population persistence or possible range extension under predicted climate warming. Such species
appear to be pre-adapted to warmer temperatures for germination and may be less of a conservation
concern than those with narrow thermal tolerances. This novel seed-based predictive tool should help
improve management efficiency for prioritising conservation actions, influencing choice of populations
and sites for species reintroductions and restoration into novel environments.
Department of Environment and Conservation, PO Box 332, Merredin WA 6415
The Department of Environment and Conservation’s Central Wheatbelt District covers 21% of the
internationally recognised South West biodiversity hotspot. The District contains 94 known threatened
flora species which are listed as declared rare flora under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. Of the
species listed as critically endangered 67% are endemic to the region. These species are highly
localised to specific habitats and often represented by small populations that are in decline. The use of
site specific recruitment burns as a recovery action has been beneficial for fire dependent species to
regenerate and persist in the highly fragmented landscape.
The Wyalkatchem Foxglove (Pityrodia scabra) is currently listed as critically endangered and at risk of
extinction. Strategic burning within the populations during 2006-2010 has successfully promoted
recruitment of seedlings that have reached reproductive maturity. The use of fire as a recruitment
mechanism is a key component of the overall management of threatened flora in the wheatbelt.
A Big Slice of Flora Pie, the Alinytjara Wilurara NRM Region, managing
threatened flora across 250,000 square kilometres
Alinytjara Wilurara NRM Board, 321 Goodwood Road, Kings Park SA 5034
The Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management Region covers 250,000km
in arguably the
national and state conservation significance. This includes species that do not have sufficient data to be
effectively rated, as well as species that have not had their occurrence at sites confirmed for many
years. The threatened flora in the region cover a range of genera and forms - orchids, forbs, daisies,
fire-dependant legumes, chenopods, flowering bushes, mallees and aquatic plants. And the habitats
they occupy vary from the edge of the Nullarbor cliffs to the highest ranges in South Australia and the
driest deserts. But, for the region’s threatened flora species, there remain many unknowns. The area of
distribution, populations and total numbers are not known. Threats have not been fully assessed.
Levels of recruitment and survival in the face of risks such as fire, feral animals and weeds are generally
unknown, as are the impacts likely under a changing climate.
With limited resources the Alinytjara Wilurara NRM Board is working hard to prioritise its on-ground
assessment and conservation activities to get the best conservation outcomes possible. However, the
region presents many challenges including prioritising species with limited information; logistics of
working in a remote and arid region; taking a landscape approach to management while conserving site-
specific threatened flora; and considering the issue of refugia in a changing climate. Truly, ‘a big slice of
Everlasting Concepts, PO Box 2049, Bedford WA 6059
Engaging with industry can provide opportunities to utilise specialist expertise and experience in
conservation and restoration projects, and form valuable partnerships which can achieve successful
outcomes. Whether it’s botanical consultants identifying conservation values through survey work or
mining companies managing restored land on their leases, there are many avenues to engage industry.
This topic seeks to discuss the challenges of identifying the ‘who, what, how, why and when’ of industry
involvement in plant conservation.
Community awareness of sustainability and the importance of preserving our biodiversity is driving
change. A questioning of the collective industries ‘modis operandi’ that identify, grow, supply, install and
manage indigenous plants for sustainable community landscapes, identifies barriers in protecting plant
conservation in urban developments.
These barriers are observed from urban developments through to handover to Local Government. In
general, current community landscapes are not suited to our environment, or sustainable. The
indigenous plant horticulture industry is constrained by accepted norms in various connected industries.
The supply chain supporting the existing horticultural industry is not set up to develop and support the
widespread uptake of indigenous plants into community and domestic landscapes. This is in fact
causing significant restrictions to the growth of the indigenous plant horticultural industry. As a result,
new community landscapes that set out to incorporate local plants, fail at a time when public demand for
environmentally sustainable development is becoming de rigueur.
To ensure changes and indigenous plants are embraced, the barriers need to be addressed from policy
through to the management of landscapes and bushlands. When these barriers are embraced the urban
development industry will be an enormous resource to assist in plant conservation and biodiversity
protection. Achievement of this goal will improve environmental outcomes for urban development and
connected industries to ensure local biodiversity is protected and a ‘Sense of Place’ is created.
It is the connection of the relevant horticultural industries and the urban development industry that will