Consultation Document on Listing Eligibility and Conservation Actions



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Consultation Document on Listing Eligibility and Conservation Actions
Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes (Tufted Plumed Featherflower) and Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis (Vasse Featherflower)

You are invited to provide your views about:

1) the eligibility of Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes (Tufted Plumed Featherflower) for exclusion from the EPBC Act threatened species list;

2) the eligibility of Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis (Vasse Featherflower) for exclusion from the EPBC Act threatened species list; and

3) the eligibility of Verticordia plumosa for inclusion on the EPBC Act threatened species list.

The views of experts, stakeholders and the general public are welcome. Responses can be provided by any interested person.

At the commencement of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the list of threatened species under its predecessor, the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992, was transferred to the list of threatened species under the EPBC Act in June 2000. This list includes varieties; however, varieties are not considered to be species for the purpose of the EPBC Act and are not eligible to be listed under section 178 of the EPBC Act. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) is reviewing the status of listed varieties as they are to be removed from the list. Prior to removal, the Committee is considering the higher taxon to determine its eligibility for listing.

Draft information for your consideration of the eligibility of Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes for listing starts at page 3, of the eligibility of V. p. var. vassensis for listing starts at page 5 and of the eligibility of V. plumosa for listing starts at page 7. To assist with the Committee’s assessment, the Committee has identified three specific questions on which it seeks your guidance at page 11.


Responses to are to be provided in writing either by email to: species.consultation@environment.gov.au
or by mail to:
The Director

Species Information and Policy Section

Wildlife, Heritage and Marine Division

Department of the Environment

PO Box 787

Canberra ACT 2601


Responses are required to be submitted by 30 January 2015.

Contents of this information package

Page

General background information about listing threatened species

2

Information about this consultation process

2

Draft information about Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes and its eligibility for listing

3

Draft information about Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis and its eligibility for listing

5

Draft information about Verticordia plumosa and its eligibility for listing

7

References cited

10

Collective list of questions – your views

11


General background information about listing threatened species

The Australian Government helps protect species at risk of extinction by listing them as threatened under Part 13 of the EPBC Act. Once listed under the EPBC Act, the species becomes a Matter of National Environmental Significance (MNES) and must be protected from significant impacts through the assessment and approval provisions of the EPBC Act. More information about threatened species is available on the department’s website at:

http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html.

The listing of species is driven by a public nomination process. Public nominations to list threatened species under the EPBC Act are received annually by the department. In order to determine if a species is eligible for listing as threatened under the EPBC Act, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) undertakes a rigorous scientific assessment of its status to determine if the species is eligible for listing against a set of criteria. These criteria are available on the Department’s website at: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/pubs/guidelines-species.pdf.

As part of the assessment process, the Committee consults with the public and stakeholders to obtain specific details about the species, as well as advice on what conservation actions might be appropriate. Information provided through the consultation process is considered by the Committee in its assessment. The Committee provides its advice on the assessment (together with comments received) to the Minister regarding the eligibility of the species for listing under a particular category and what conservation actions might be appropriate. The Minister decides to add, or not to add, the species to the list of threatened species under the EPBC Act. More detailed information about the listing process is at: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations.html.

To promote the recovery of listed threatened species and ecological communities, conservation advices and where required, recovery plans are made or adopted in accordance with Part 13 of the EPBC Act. Conservation advices provide guidance at the time of listing on known threats and priority recovery actions that can be undertaken at a local and regional level. Recovery plans describe key threats and identify specific recovery actions that can be undertaken to enable recovery activities to occur within a planned and logical national framework. Information about recovery plans is available on the department’s website at: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery.html.



Information about this consultation process

Responses to this consultation can be provided electronically or in hard copy to the contact addresses provided on Page 1. All responses received will be provided in full to the Committee and then to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment.

In providing comments, please provide references to published data where possible. Should the Committee use the information you provide in formulating its advice, the information will be attributed to you and referenced as a ‘personal communication’ unless you provide references or otherwise attribute this information (please specify if your organisation requires that this information is attributed to your organisation instead of yourself). The final advice by the Committee will be published on the department’s website following the listing decision by the Minister.

Information provided through consultation may be subject to freedom of information legislation and court processes. It is also important to note that under the EPBC Act, the deliberations and recommendations of the Committee are confidential until the Minister has made a final decision on the nomination, unless otherwise determined by the Minister.


Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes
Taxonomy

Conventionally accepted as Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes A.S.George (CHAH, 2014a).



Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes is distinguished from other varieties of V. plumosa by the presence of a lignotuber, longer leaves and smaller stature (George, 1991; Harris and Rye, 2013).

Reason for conservation assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee

Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes was listed as endangered under the predecessor to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992, and transferred to the EPBC Act in June 2000. It is also listed as critically endangered under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia).

Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes is conventionally accepted as a variety. Varieties are not considered to be species for the purpose of the EPBC Act and are not eligible to be listed under section 178 of the EPBC Act. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) is reviewing the status of listed varieties as they are to be removed from the list. Prior to removal, the Committee is considering the higher taxon (Verticordia plumosa) to determine its eligibility for listing (see page 7).

This assessment is a result of advice provided for the eligibility of varieties to be listed.

Distribution

Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes is endemic to south-west Western Australia, where it is known from three subpopulations near Bussleton: at Ambergate Reserve, 556 plants were known in 2002; at a road reserve near Treeton, 10 plants were recorded in 2006; and at Edwards Road, no plants were recorded in 2002 (DEC, 2014). A fourth subpopulation of 50 plants consists of probable hybrids with V. p. var. vassensis (DEC, 2014). The variety has a restricted extent of occurrence at 30 km2 and very restricted area of occupancy at 0.015 km2 (Taylor et al., 2005).

There are early records (1839 and 1900) from an area near Serpentine, approximately 150 km to the north of Bussleton (Taylor et al., 2005), however, these have not been relocated.


Relevant Biology/Ecology

Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes grows on sandy loam on seasonally inundated plains (Western Australian Herbarium, 2014). The subpopulation in Ambergate Reserve occurs on low-lying sandy or clay soils in association with Marri (Eucalyptus calophylla), Kingia, Xanthorrhoea, Stirlingia, Isopogon, sedges, Conostylis spp., Melaleuca spp. and Adenanthos spp. (Taylor et al., 2005).

Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes plants produce an abundance of flowers from November to December. Generally, only a single seed per flower is produced, with seed set and germination both considered to be low (approximately 5% and 26%, respectively) (Cochrane et al., 2001).

Population health and flowering vigour deteriorate without some regular burning, but too regular fire reduces growth and condition (Williams et al., 2001). Post fire, the variety germinates from seed and resprouts from its small lignotuber (woody stock) (Williams et al., 2001). The Ambergate Reserve subpopulation was burnt in 2000 and was flowering again within 12 months (WA DEC, 2007, cited in Department of the Environment, 2014).

Threats

Threats to Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes include weed invasion, inappropriate fire regimes, grazing and trampling by livestock, Road/track maintenance and dieback caused by the plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi (Taylor et al., 2005).


Assessment of available information in relation to the EPBC Act Criteria and Regulations and Consideration for delisting

As identified in the “Reason for conservation assessment” discussion provided above, Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes is not considered a species for the purpose of the EPBC Act and is not eligible for listing in any category. Delisting is not expected to have any negative impacts as the species, Verticordia plumosa, is abundant and widely distributed.


Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis
Taxonomy

Conventionally accepted Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis A.S.George (CHAH, 2014a).



Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis is distinguished from other varieties of V. plumosa by the smallness of its flower (George, 1991). A recent treatment suggested that flower size was similar to the revised V. p. var. brachyphylla, but that the position of flowers was significantly different to keep the varieties separate, but further review is required (Harris and Rye 2013).

Reason for conservation assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee

Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis was listed as endangered under the predecessor to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992, and transferred to the EPBC Act in June 2000. It is also listed as endangered under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia).

Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis is conventionally accepted as a variety. Varieties are not considered to be species for the purpose of the EPBC Act and are not eligible to be listed under section 178 of the EPBC Act. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) is reviewing the status of listed varieties as they are to be removed from the list. Prior to removal, the Committee is considering the higher taxon (Verticordia plumosa) to determine its eligibility for listing (see page 7).

This assessment is a result of advice provided for the eligibility of varieties to be listed.

Distribution

Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis is endemic to south-west Western Australia, where it is known from 10 extant subpopulations and three extinct subpopulations near Bussleton. The distribution of the variety is highly fragmented existing in isolated pockets of remnant vegetation. The majority of the known subpopulations occur in road and rail reserves or private land, with one third of the total known plants occurring in Ruabon Townsite Nature Reserve. The variety’s total number of mature individuals is estimated to be approximately 3200 mature plants. A subpopulation of 50 plants consists of probable hybrids with V. p. var. ananeotes (DEC, 2014). The variety has an extent of occurrence of 772 km2 and an area of occupancy of 0.045 km2.
Relevant Biology/Ecology

Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis grows on a variety of sands and swampy clay soils in mostly winter-wet flats and depressions (Western Australian Herbarium, 2014). It often grows with Golden Spray (Viminaria juncea), sedge and rushes, or in low heath containing Hypocalymma sp., Grass Tree (Kingia australis), Pericalymma ellipticum and Rose Coneflower (Isopogon formosus) (Brown et al., 1998; Williams et al., 2001).

Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis flowers from October to February, occasionally continuing until April. It regenerates from seed following fire and soil disturbance (Brown et al., 1998).

Threats


The main identified threats to Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis are habitat degradation due to horse riding (such as trampling) and infrastructure maintenance (such as road, firebreak maintenance); invasive weeds; inappropriate fire regimes; and dieback caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Williams et al., 2001). The variety is also at risk of plant damage or mortality caused by myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii) (Kriticos et al., 2013), if the pathogen was to become established in Western Australia.
Assessment of available information in relation to the EPBC Act Criteria and Regulations and Consideration for delisting

As identified in the “Reason for conservation assessment” discussion provided above, Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis is not considered a species for the purpose of the EPBC Act and is not eligible for listing in any category. Delisting is not expected to have any negative impacts as the species, Verticordia plumosa, is abundant and widely distributed.


Verticordia plumosa
Taxonomy

Conventionally accepted as Verticordia plumosa (Desf.) Druce (CHAH, 2014a).



Verticordia plumosa had six accepted varieties, of which V. p. var. ananeotes and V. p. var. vassensis have restricted distributions.

Reason for conservation assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee

This assessment is the result of Verticordia plumosa being the closest higher order taxon eligible for assessment that is related to V. p. var. ananeotes and V. p. var. vassensis. These varieties are listed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, however, varieties are not considered to be species for the purpose of the EPBC Act and are not eligible to be included on the list of threatened species. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) is reviewing the status of listed varieties as they are to be removed from the list. Prior to removal, the Committee is considering the higher taxon (Verticordia plumosa) to determine its eligibility for listing.

Distribution

The species Verticordia plumosa is endemic to south-west Western Australia were it is common and widely distributed. The species occurs from Arrowsmith River south to Scott River and east to Point Malcolm (200 kilometres east of Geraldton) and occurs on a mixture of public and private land, but also in many conservation reserves such as Boonanarring Nature Reserve, Stirling Ranges National Park, Fitzgerald River National Park and Cape Arid National Park (CHAH, 2014b).

Relevant Biology/Ecology

Verticordia plumosa occurs on sand, clay, and gravelly soils on rock outcrops undulating plains in winter-wet areas (Western Australian Herbarium, 2014). The total population is unknown and threats undocumented, but at the species level there is no evidence of a substantial decline in this common species (Harris and Rye, 2013).
Threats

The threats the species Verticordia plumosa are undocumented however there is no evidence of a substantial decline in this common species. The species is at risk of plant damage or mortality caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi (Podger, 1972, Shearer et al., 2013) and myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii) (Kriticos et al., 2013), the latter of which is yet to be recorded in Western Australia. Verticordia plumosa in cultivation in eastern Australia is known to be susceptible to myrtle rust (Morin et al., 2011).


Assessment of available information in relation to the EPBC Act Criteria and Regulations

Criterion 1. Population size reduction (reduction in total numbers)

Population reduction (measured over the longer of 10 years or 3 generations) based on any of A1 to A4






Critically Endangered

Very severe reduction

Endangered

Severe reduction

Vulnerable

Substantial reduction

A1

90%

70%

50%

A2, A3, A4

80%

50%

30%

A1 Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred or suspected in the past and the causes of the reduction are clearly reversible AND understood AND ceased.

A2 Population reduction observed, estimated, inferred or suspected in the past where the causes of the reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible.

A3 Population reduction, projected or suspected to be met in the future (up to a maximum of 100 years) [(a) cannot be used for A3]

A4 An observed, estimated, inferred, projected or suspected population reduction where the time period must include both the past and the future (up to a max. of 100 years in future), and where the causes of reduction may not have ceased OR may not be understood OR may not be reversible.


(a) direct observation [except A3]




based on any of the following:
(b) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon

(c) a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat

(d) actual or potential levels of exploitation

(e) the effects of introduced taxa, hybridization, pathogens, pollutants, competitors or parasites



Evidence:

Verticordia plumosa is widespread and not considered threatened and there is no evidence of decline.

The information considered appear to demonstrate that the species Verticordia plumosa is not eligible for listing in any category under this criterion. However, the purpose of this consultation document is to elicit additional information to better understand the species status. This conclusion should therefore be considered to be tentative at this stage, as it may be changed as a result of responses to this consultation process.



Criterion 2. Geographic distribution is precarious for either extent of occurrence AND/OR area of occupancy




Critically Endangered

Very restricted

Endangered

Restricted

Vulnerable

Limited

B1. Extent of occurrence (EOO)

< 100 km2

< 5,000 km2

< 20,000 km2

B2. Area of occupancy (AOO)

< 10 km2

< 500 km2

< 2,000 km2

AND at least 2 of the following 3 conditions:

(a) Severely fragmented OR Number of locations

= 1

5

10

(b) Continuing decline observed, estimated, inferred or projected in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) area, extent and/or quality of habitat; (iv) number of locations or subpopulations; (v) number of mature individuals

(c) Extreme fluctuations in any of: (i) extent of occurrence; (ii) area of occupancy; (iii) number of locations or subpopulations; (number of mature individuals

Evidence:

The geographic distribution of Verticordia plumosa is not considered to be very restricted, restricted or limited (extent of occurrence 300,000 km2 and area of occupancy 50,000 km2 (CHAH, 2014b) and no specific threats have been identified that are operating that would make the species’ geographic distribution precarious for its survival.



The data presented above appear to demonstrate that the species Verticordia plumosa is not eligible for listing in any category under this criterion. However, the purpose of this consultation document is to elicit additional information to better understand the species status. This conclusion should therefore be considered to be tentative at this stage, as it may be changed as a result of responses to this consultation process.

Criterion 3. Small population size and decline




Critically Endangered

Very low

Endangered

Low

Vulnerable

Limited

Estimated number of mature individuals

< 250

< 2,500

< 10,000

AND either (C1) or (C2) is true










C1 An observed, estimated or projected continuing decline of at least (up to a max. of 100 years in future

Very high rate

25% in 3 years or 1 generation

(whichever is longer)

High rate

20% in 3 years or 1 generation

(whichever is longer)

Substantial rate

10% in 10 years or 3 generations

(whichever is longer)

C2 An observed, estimated, projected or inferred continuing decline AND its geographic distribution is precarious for its survival based on at least 1 of the following 3 conditions:










(a)

(i) Number of mature individuals in each subpopulation

50

250

1,000

(ii) % of mature individuals in one subpopulation =

90 – 100%

95 – 100%

100%

(b) Extreme fluctuations in the number of mature individuals










Evidence:

The estimated total numbers of mature individuals of Verticordia plumosa is considered to be greater than 10 000.

The data presented above appear to demonstrate that the species Verticordia plumosa is not eligible for listing in any category under this criterion. However, the purpose of this consultation document is to elicit additional information to better understand the species status. This conclusion should therefore be considered to be tentative at this stage, as it may be changed as a result of responses to this consultation process.

Criterion 4. Very small population




Critically Endangered

Extremely low

Endangered

Very Low

Vulnerable

Low

Number of mature individuals

< 50

< 250

< 1,000

Evidence:

The estimated total numbers of mature individuals of Verticordia plumosa is considered to be greater than 1000.

The data presented above appear to demonstrate that the species Verticordia plumosa is not eligible for listing in any category under this criterion. However, the purpose of this consultation document is to elicit additional information to better understand the species status. This conclusion should therefore be considered to be tentative at this stage, as it may be changed as a result of responses to this consultation process.


Criterion 5. Quantitative Analysis




Critically Endangered

Immediate future

Endangered

Near future

Vulnerable

Medium-term future

Indicating the probability of extinction in the wild to be:

50% in 10 years or 3 generations, whichever is longer (100 years max.)

20% in 20 years or 5 generations, whichever is longer (100 years max.)

10% in 100 years

Evidence:

There is no quantitative data available to assess against this criterion.



References cited in the advice

Brown A, Thomson-Dans C and Marchant N (Eds) (1998). Western Australia’s Threatened Flora. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Como, Western Australia.

Cochrane A, Brown K, Cunneen S and Kelly A (2001). Variation in seed production and germination in 22 rare and threatened Western Australian Verticordia (Myrtaceae). Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 84:103–110.

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2014a). Australian Plant Name Index. Integrated Biodiversity Information System, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian National Herbarium

Viewed: 15 October 2014

Available on the Internet:

http://www.cpbr.gov.au/cpbr/databases/apni-search-full.html

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2014b). Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.

Viewed: 15 October 2014

Available on the Internet:

http://avh.chah.org.au/index.php/about/

Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (2014). Extract from the Threatened and Priority Flora Database, 6 May 2014.

Department of the Environment (2014). Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes. In: Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra.

Viewed: 15 October 2014

Available on the Internet:

http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat

George AS (1991). New taxa, combinations and typifications in Verticordia (Myrtaceae: Chamelaucieae). Nuytsia 7(3):231–394.

Harris AM and Rye BL (2013). A re-assessment of the varieties recognised in Verticordia plumosa (Myrtaceae: Chamelaucieae). Nuytsia 23:163–170.

Morin L, Aveyard R and Lidbetter J (2011). Myrtle rust: host testing under controlled conditions. Report number: C2010/9785. CSIRO and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Kriticos DJ, Morin L, Leriche A, Anderson RC and Caley P (2013). Combining a Climatic Niche Model of an Invasive Fungus with Its Host Species Distributions to Identify Risks to Natural Assets: Puccinia psidii Sensu Lato in Australia. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64479.

Podger F (1972). Phytophthora cinnamomi, a cause of lethal disease in indigenous plant communities in Western Australia. Phytopathology 62: 972–981.

Shearer BL, Crane CE, Cochrane JA and Dunne CP (2013). Variation in susceptibility of threatened flora to Phytophthora cinnamomi. Australasian Plant Pathology 42(4): 491–502.

Taylor H, English V and Webb A (2005). Tufted Plumed Featherflower (Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes) Interim Recovery Plan 2005-2010. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Wanneroo, Western Australia.

Williams K, Brown A, Wood S and Webb A (2001). Declared Rare and Poorly Known Flora in the Central Forest Region. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Perth, Western Australia.

Western Australian Herbarium (2014). Descriptions by the Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Viewed: 8 May 2014

Available on the Internet:

http://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/



Collective list of questions – your views

  1. Can you provide evidence that would change the outcome of the assessment of Verticordia plumosa?

  2. Can you provide evidence that V. p. var. ananeotes is considered a species or a subspecies?

  3. Can you provide evidence that V. p. var. vassensis is considered a species or a subspecies?




Verticordia plumosa var. ananeotes (Tufted Plumed Featherflower) and Verticordia plumosa var. vassensis (Vasse Featherflower) consultation

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