Fitzgerald biosphere recovery plan



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3.3 Threatened and Priority Ecological Communities of the Fitzgerald Biosphere


Ecological communities are naturally occurring biological assemblages that occur in a particular type of habitat. There is one threatened and eight priority ecological communities in the Fitzgerald Biosphere, five of which are endemic (Table ). No Fitzgerald Biosphere ecological communities are listed under Commonwealth legislation.
The threatened ecological community (TEC), Eucalyptus acies mallee heath, is restricted to the central Barren Ranges in the FRNP. The Priority ecological communities (PEC) (Appendix 4) are in the Ravensthorpe Range/Bandalup Hill area, except for the Swamp Yate (Eucalyptus occidentalis) woodland which is in the Yellilup Swamp area, the Tallerack (Eucalyptus pleurocarpa) mallee-heath near Boxwood Hill, and the Scrub heath of the Esperance Sandplain.
Table : The threatened and priority ecological communities that occur in the Fitzgerald Biosphere, indicating which of these are endemic to the Biosphere.

Community Name

WA Conservation Status

Endemic

Threatened

Thumb Peak - Mid-Mount Barren - Woolburnup Hill (Central Barren Ranges) Eucalyptus acies mallee heath

Vulnerable

1

Priority

Banksia laevigata/ Beaufortia orbifolia community

Priority 1

1

Eucalyptus megacornuta mallet woodland

Priority 1

1

Eucalyptus purpurata woodlands (Bandalup Hill)

Priority 1

1

Heath on Komatiite at Bandalup Hill

Priority 1

1

Swamp Yate (Eucalyptus occidentalis) woodland in seasonally-inundated basins (South Coast)

Priority 1




Tallerack (Eucalyptus pleurocarpa) mallee-heath on seasonally-inundated soils

Priority 1




Melaleuca sp. Kundip (GF Craig 6020) heath

Priority 1

1

Scrub heath on deep sand with Banksia and Lambertia, and Banksia scrub heath on Esperance Sandplain.

Priority 3





4 Habitat Critical and Priority Areas




4.1 Habitat Critical in the Fitzgerald Biosphere


‘Habitat critical to the survival of a species or ecological community’ under the EBPC Act can comprise:

  • Sites to meet essential life cycle requirements (e.g. foraging, breeding, nesting),

  • Sites of refuge for times of environmental stress (e.g. droughts, fire, flood),

  • Essential travel routes between the above sites,

  • Sites necessary for seed dispersal mechanisms to operate or to maintain populations of species essential to the threatened species or ecological communities (e.g. pollinators),

  • The habitat used by important populations,

  • Habitat that is required to maintain genetic diversity,

  • Areas that may not be occupied by the species and/or ecological community but are essential for the maintenance of those areas where they do occur (e.g. the catchment of a wetland community).

This habitat critical can include (a) currently occupied habitat for core or important populations and (b) potential habitat which may currently be unoccupied but present opportunities for dispersal to or for reintroductions.


Habitat critical to the survival of each of the threatened species in the Fitzgerald Biosphere was identified using all available distribution records, habitat descriptions and other data sources such as vegetation mapping. A description of the known habitat requirements and a map of habitat critical for each of the threatened species and ecological communities are included in the species profiles in Appendix 2. The habitat critical for the threatened fauna and flora were merged together to show areas where the habitat critical overlapped between species (Figure and Figure ).
This mapping of habitat critical is preliminary for most of the species. The degree to which the habitat critical could be identified was dependant on the level of knowledge of the distribution and habitat requirements of each species and the suitability of the currently available GIS layers for identifying habitats. More accurate mapping of habitat critical will require increased knowledge and documentation of habitat requirements and further detailed vegetation and landscape mapping.
Most of the remnant vegetation in the Biosphere is habitat critical for at least one threatened fauna species, as some of the species are relatively widespread, in particular Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo and Malleefowl (Figure ). Concentrations of fauna species are across northern FRNP to Ravensthorpe Range.
Most of the threatened flora species have relatively restricted ranges (Figure ). The highest densities of these species occur on the Barren Ranges (Quartzite Range landscape unit) and Ravensthorpe Range (Greenstone landscape unit).
Habitat critical was not determined for the one Threatened Ecological Community, Eucalyptus acies mallee heath. However, the current distribution of this community has been mapped. The community is restricted to three mountain tops (Thumb Peak, Mid-Mount Barren and Woolburnup Hill) in the central Barren Ranges (Appendix 5).

Figure : The merged habitat critical for all threatened fauna within the Fitzgerald Biosphere. This shows the distribution of the habitat critical across the Biosphere and where there is overlap between the species.


Figure : The merged habitat critical for all threatened flora within the Fitzgerald Biosphere. This shows the distribution of the habitat critical across the Biosphere and where there is overlap between the species.


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