Draft banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain – Draft description and threats



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1.4 Fauna


Banksia Woodlands support a rich and diverse array of fauna species on the Swan Coastal Plain The Swan Coastal Plain is exceptional in reptile species richness while the bird assemblage is numerically dominated by nectarivores (How and Dell, 2000). The fossorial turtle frog (Myobatrachus gouldi) is a highly unusual amphibian species in this ecosystem, and is closely associated with Banksia woodlands due its diet being dominated by termites that feed on Banksia wood (Callaby, 1956).

Some reptile species are endemic to the Swan Coastal Plain, such as Lerista lineata (Perth slider, Perth lined lerista) and Neelaps calonotos (black-striped snake). Several other species are near-endemics, such as Ctenophorus adelaidensis (western heath dragon, sandhill dragon), Delma concinna (javelin lizard), Diplodactylus polyophthalmus (spotted sandplain gecko), Lerista christinae (bold-striped slider) and Pletholax gracilis (keeled legless lizard). There is a marked change in the reptile assemblages across the Swan Coastal Plain that reflect the underlying sandy soil structure of the differing Quindalup, Spearwood and Bassendean landforms and the Banksia Woodlands that dominate them.

The Banksia woodlands provide key habitat for black cockatoos: Carnaby’s (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), Baudin’s (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) and forest red-tailed (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso), each of which is listed as nationally threatened. These species occur within the Swan Coastal Plain bioregion, including the Perth urban region, and are known to forage in woodland and heathland dominated by Proteaceae, such as the Banksia Woodland ecological community (DSEWPaC, 2012). They breed in eucalypt tree species that may occur as emergents in some patches of the ecological community, especially mature trees old enough to form natural hollows.

Over 70 percent of the native ground mammal fauna known from the Swan Coastal Plain at the time of European settlement has now become regionally extinct (Kitchener et al., 1978), and other species have contracted in their range to the north. The larger patches of Banksia Woodlands can still support viable populations of the Tarsipes rostratus (Noolbenger, honey possum), and Pseudomys albocinereus (Noodji, ash-grey mouse), but fragmentation and increased fire frequency results in the loss of most native mammal species. The often overlapping flowering phenology of the dominant banksia species plays a significant role in maintenance of nectar feeding bird populations. These species mostly rely on all-year-round flowering for their food, successful breeding and persistence, although some species are able to feed on insects for part of the year.

The study of invertebrates is less complete than vertebrates, but several endemic taxa are known from localised woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain and there is a clear biogeographic association between some invertebrate groups and landform types that underpin the dominant Banksia Woodlands (Harvey et al., 1997). In southwestern Australia, pollinating and herbivorous insects exhibit relationships with plant species that are host-specific to varying degrees, and it is highly likely that biota of the Banksia Woodlands also exhibit host-specificity contributing to endemism at the community level. Most of these relationships remain to be documented and studied. One key example is that pollination of some rare orchids is dependent on a single, mostly orchid species specific species of thynnid wasp (Swarts and Dixon, 2009).

At least 38 native species of earthworms are estimated to occur in the Perth metropolitan region of the Swan Coastal Plain, with diversity increasing away from the coast (Abbott and Wills, 2002). Native earthworm species in the Perth metropolitan region are underrepresented in disturbed areas (e.g. garden samples), instead being mostly replaced by introduced species, and introduced species were not found in undisturbed remnants (Abbott, 1982). This suggests that urban development has been detrimental to native earthworm fauna and that remnant vegetation fragments will continue to provide refuges in the future (Abbott and Wills, 2002).

Key species that occur in the ecological community include:

Birds:

Acanthorhynchus superciliosus (western spinebill)

Anthochaera carunculata (red wattlebird)

Anthochaera lunulata (western wattlebird)

Calyptorhynchus banksii naso (forest red-tailed black cockatoo)

Calyptorhynchus baudinii (Baudin’s cockatoo), usually only where Jarrah or Marri occur

Calyptorhynchus latirostris (Carnaby’s cockatoo)

Lichmera indistincta (brown honeyeater)

Phylidonyris niger (white-cheeked honeyeater)

Phylidonyris novaehollandiae (new holland honeyeater)

Zosterops lateralis chloronotus (western silvereye)

Mammals:

Tarsipes rostratus (Noolbenger, honey possum)

Pseudomys albocinereus (Noodji, ash-grey mouse)

Macropus irma (Kwoora, brush-tailed wallaby, black-gloved wallaby)

Reptiles:

Ctenophorus adelaidensis (western heath dragon, sandhill dragon)

Ctenotus australis (western limestone ctenotus)

Delma concinna (javelin lizard)

Diplodactylus polyophthalmus (spotted sandplain gecko)

Lerista christinae (bold-striped slider)

Lerista lineata (Perth slider, Perth lined lerista)

Morethia lineoocellata (west coast morethia)

Neelaps calonotos (black-striped snake)

Pletholax gracilis (keeled legless lizard)

Simoselaps littoralis (west-coast banded snake)

Frogs:

Heleiporus eyrei (moaning frog)

Limnodynastis dorsalis (pobblebonk)

Litoria moorei (Moore’s frog, motorbike frog)

Myobatrachus gouldii (turtle frog)

Invertebrates:

Synemon gratiosa (graceful sun moth)

Endemic Antichiropus millipedes



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