Focusing on the Landscape Biodiversity in Australia’s National Reserve System Part B: Vascular Flora a report for Caring for Country



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Table 282 Cunoniaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 480



Table 283 Cunoniaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs. ........................... 481

Table 284 Cunoniaceae species recorded at more than 100 PAs. ..................................... 482

Table 285 Cunoniaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs.................................... 482

Table 286 Iridaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species records 

in ANHAT. ...................................................................................................................... 483



Table 287 Iridaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 483



Table 288 Iridaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs.................................. 484

Table 289 Iridaceae species with <10% of ANHAT records located within PAs.............. 484

Table 290 Iridaceae species recorded at more than 100 PAs. ........................................... 485

Table 291 Iridaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs.......................................... 485

Table 292 Menyanthaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species

records for this family in ANHAT. ................................................................................... 486



Table 293 Menyanthaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 486



Table 294 Menyanthaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs........................ 487

Table 295 Menyanthaceae species with <10% of ANHAT records located within PAs. .. 487

Table 296  Menyanthaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs................................ 487

Table 297 Cupressaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species 

records in ANHAT. .......................................................................................................... 488



Table 298 Cupressaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 488



Table 299 Cupressaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs. .......................... 489

Table 300 Cupressaceae species with <10% of ANHAT records located within PAs....... 489

Table 301 Cupressaceae species recorded at more than 100 PAs. .................................... 489

Table 302 Cupressaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs................................... 490

Table 303 Lythraceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species 

records in ANHAT. .......................................................................................................... 491



Table 304 Lythraceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 491



Table 305 Lythraceae species with <10% of ANHAT records located within PAs........... 492

Table 306 Lythraceae species recorded at more than 100 PAs. ........................................ 492

Table 307 Lythraceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs....................................... 492

Table 308  Onagraceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species 

records in ANHAT. .......................................................................................................... 493



Table 309 Onagraceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 493



Table 310  Onagraceae species with >45% of site records within PAs.............................. 494

Table 311 Onagraceae species recorded at more than 100 PAs........................................ 494

11

Table 312 Onagraceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs. .................................... 494

Table 313 Nyctaginaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species 

records in ANHAT. .......................................................................................................... 496



Table 314 Nyctaginaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 496



Table 315 Nyctaginaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs. ........................ 497

Table 316 Nyctaginaceae species with <10% of ANHAT records located within PAs. .... 497

Table 317 Nyctaginaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs. ................................ 497

Table 318 Smilacaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species 

records in ANHAT. .......................................................................................................... 498



Table 319  Smilacaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 498



Table 320 Smilacaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs............................. 499

Table 321  Smilacaceae species recorded at more than 100 PAs....................................... 499

Table 322 Smilacaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs. ................................... 499

Table 323 Ericaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species records 

in ANHAT. ...................................................................................................................... 501



Table 324 Ericaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 501



Table 325 Ericaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs................................. 502

Table 326 Asteliaceae species that account for approximately 50% of the total species 

records in ANHAT. .......................................................................................................... 503



Table 327 Asteliaceae species with 30 or fewer individual site records in the ANHAT 

database............................................................................................................................ 503



Table 328 Asteliaceae species with >45% of site records within PAs. ............................. 504

Table 329 Asteliaceae species recorded from five or fewer PAs. ..................................... 504

12

Executive Summary

Australia has a diverse flora with a very high level of endemism. However, the fauna and 

flora of Australia is under threat from several areas and remains in need of protection. The 

Australian Government is building a National Reserve System (NRS) to protect its native 

flora and fauna.  The 2006 Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD) lists 

8780 International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria “reserves” that 

protect 768,826,956 hectares (11.6%) of mainland Australia (forming Australia’s NRS). A 

simple approach to assessing the potential effectiveness of reservations in protecting species 

is to determine the proportion of record sites for each species that falls within Protected 

Areas (PAs).  

Locations of flora records (record sites) were compared with the Australia’s NRS, based on 

CAPAD, for the 50 most speciose families of vascular flora in Australia.  Based on the 

number of record sites within protected areas (PAs), we assessed whether the available 

distribution of record sites matched that which could be expected by chance.  For each 

species, we determined the total number of PAs it has been located in and how many of these 

were larger than 1000 ha.  Larger PAs are thought to provide significantly better long-term 

protection to species. They represent larger areas of more diverse habitats that can support 

larger populations that are more likely to survive local catastrophic events and so survive in 

relative perpetuity. Species in smaller reserves will be present in smaller populations and so 

are considered more likely to suffer major decline due to individual “local” events that affect 

habitats (e.g., fire, disease) leaving them prone to extinction.  They also are likely to have 

less genetic diversity and so have less long-term ability to adapt to changing conditions 

within their PA and region.  

From the Australian Natural Heritage Assessment Tool (ANHAT) database, we obtained data 

for 13556 flora species, but 3329 of these species (24.6%) were represented by 30 or fewer 

records.  The group of poorly recorded species were not included in any further detailed 

analysis as the data was considered insufficient to accurately assess their status or 

distributions.  For nearly all of these species, their ranges and habitat requirements are 

essentially unknown and it is reasonable to state that we cannot conclude anything specific 

about their current conservation status, their habitat associations and their distributions. The 

proportion of species falling into this category varies between the families, but typically at 

least 25% of species in any given family would be represented by 30 records or fewer.

Details on the 10211 remaining plant species represented by a minimum of 31 record sites 

are presented in Table 2.  These species have a mean 31% of record sites within PAs

significantly above the levels expected by random chance if compared to the 11.6% of land 

found in the NRS. A total of 2474 species have >45% of record sites in PAs and 1207 species 



<10% of record sites within PAs.  However, this is very dependent on family and some 

families have very few species with relatively high levels of records present in PAs. 

Furthermore, approximately 33% of the species within each family were recorded to have 

less than 10% of their records within the NRS and the majority of families were recorded to 

have at least one species with no records currently known in a PA.  

The assessed families of vascular plants tend to have few species and/or very low proportions 

of species that have been recorded in more that 100 PAs and, consequently, relatively few 


13

species are found in more than 100 PAs more than 1000 ha in area.  These large reserves are 

more likely to provide a secure future for a species as they are likely to contain larger areas 

of suitable habitat and larger populations of a given species.  The lack of species in large 

numbers of PAs is, at least to some extent, a reflection of the relatively small distributional 

ranges of most plant species (relatively few have ranges greater than 50,000 km

2

).  They do 



not occur across large enough areas to encompass more that 100 PAs and so cannot fall into 

this category.  However, given the relatively high percentages of records occurring in PAs, 

populations appear to be well represented in the reserves that the species do encompass.  

Families with fewer than 70 species with records in ANHAT were reported in the tables but 

were not assessed in any great depth in regards to patterns within their high or low 

reservation categories. There were often very few species in a category and data was usually 

not readily available on their ranges and vegetation associations.  


14

Table 1.  Summary of reservation status for vascular plant familes in Australia.  Well Reserved = Species > 45% records in PAs; Under 

Reserved = Species <10% records in PAs; Large PAs = PAs larger than 1000ha. 

Family

No. species 



>30 records

Well Reserved (%)

Under Reserved (%)

No. Species > 100 PAs

No. Species > 100 

large PAs

No. Species < 5 PAs

No. of Species in < 5 

large PAs

Myrtaceae

1791

22.7


14.4

58 (3.2%)

22 (1.2%)

713 (39.8%)

762 (42.5%)

Fabaceae


1065

18.5


14.0

34 (3.2%)

15 (1.4%)

374 (35.1%)

421 (39.5%)

Proteaceae

971

30.58


6.5

11 (1.1%)

1 (0.1%)

368 (37.9%)

439 (45.2%)

Orchidaceae

732

23.6


4.4

37 (5.0%)

12 (1.6%)

143 (19.5%)

195 (26.6%)

Asteraceae

832

25.4


11.1

73 (8.8%)

32 (3.8%)

189 (22.7%)

203 (24.4%)

Mimosaceae

901

14.6


22.5

27 (3.0%)

13 (1.4%)

402 (44.6%)

411 (45.6%)

Rutaceae


402

41.8


6.5

5 (1.2%)


2 (0.5%)

143 (35.6%)

154 (38.3%)

Euphorbiaceae

346

26.9


9.2

10 (2.9%)

6 (1.7%)

108 (31.2%)

110 (31.8%)

Epacridaceae

350

53.1


2.6

20 (5.7%)

10 (2.9%)

94 (26.9%)

119 (34.0%)

Chenopodiaceae

318

5.7


23.0

22 (6.9%)

6 (1.9%)

85 (26.7%)

96 (30.2%)

Stylidiaceae

163

20.9


7.4

3 (1.8%)


1 (0.6%)

50 (30.7%)

65 (39.9%)

Sterculiaceae

161

16.1


13.0

2 (1.2%)


0 (0.0%)

71 (40.1%)

79 (49.1%)

Sapindaceae

205

28.8


10.2

10 (4.9%)

3 (1.5%)

52 (25.4%)

58 (28.3%)

Solanaceae

172

15.7


18.6

2 (1.2%)


0 (0.0%)

60 (34.9%)

52 (30.2%)

Dilleniaceae

135

34.8


7.4

8 (5.9%)


7 (5.2%)

36 (26.7%)

40 (29.6%)

Amaranthaceae

127

4.7


24.4

4 (3.1%)


1 (0.8%)

41 (32.3%)

42 (33.1%)

Scrophulariaceae

103

32.0


7.8

4 (3.9%)


2 (1.9%)

25 (24.3%)

29 (28.2%)

Lauraceae

130

55.4


2.3

6 (4.6%)


3 (2.3%)

37 (28.6%)

40 (30.8%)

Caesalpiniaceae 

111

9.0


21.6

4 (3.6%)


2 (1.8%)

44 (39.6%)

43 (38.7%)

Tiliaceae

64

10.9


17.2

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

33 (51.6%)

33 (51.6%)

Convolvulaceae

91

3.3


16.5

3 (3.3%)


1 (1.1%)

25 (27.5%)

25 (27.5%)

Thymelaeaceae

97

21.6


11.3

7 (7.2%)


2 (2.1%)

28 (28.9%)

26 (26.8%)

Anthericaceae

79

15.2


1.3

10 (12.7%)

5 (6.3%)

10 (12.7%)

16 (20.2%)

Haemodoraceae

66

3.0


9.1

1 (1.5%)


0 (0.0%)

16 (24.2%)

18 (27.3%)

Casuarinaceae

71

29.6


5.6

5 (7.0%)


3 (4.2%)

22 (31.0%)

18 (25.3%)


15

Family


No. species 

>30 records

Well Reserved (%)

Under Reserved (%)

No. Species > 100 PAs

No. Species > 100 

large PAs

No. Species < 5 PAs

No. of Species in < 5 

large PAs

Phormiaceae

55

18.2



7.3

6 (10.9%)

5 (9.1%)

13 (23.6%)

17 (30.9%)

Lentibulariaceae

38

26.3


0.0

1 (2.6%)


1 (2.6%)

13 (34.2%)

13 (34.2%)

Portulacaceae

41

17.1


4.9

3 (7.3%)


2 (4.9%)

8 (19.5%)

7 (17.1%)

Zygophyllaceae

50

4.0


10.0

4 (8.0%)


1 (2.0%)

11 (22.0%)

12 (24.0%)

Arecaceae

43

53.4


2.3

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

15 (34.9%)

17 (39.5%)

Caryophyllaceae

40

30.0


12.5

2 (5.0%)


1 (2.5%)

12 (30.0%)

11 (27.5%)

Meliaceae

41

43.9


4.9

2 (4.9%)


1 (2.4%)

8 (19.5%)

7 (17.1%)

Aizoaceae

37

8.1


24.3

3 (8.1%)


1 (2.7%)

16 (43.2%)

18 (48.6%)

Araceae


25

36.0


8.0

1 (4.0%)


1 (4.0%) %

8 (32.0%)

7 (28.0%)

Zamiaceae

38

31.6


10.5

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

24 (63.1%)

25 (65.8%)

Combretaceae

37

16.2


21.6

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

12 (32.4%)

12 (32.4%)

Monimiaceae

31

64.5


0.0

1 (3.2%)


0 (0.0%)

2 (6.4%)


3 (9.7%)

Colchicaceae

25

12.0


8.0

2 (8.0%)


2 (8.0%)

7 (28.0%)

8 (32.0%)

Centrolepidaceae

19

15.8


0.0

3 (15.8%)

2 (10.5%)

1 (5.3%)


2 (10.5%)

Cunoniaceae

27

66.7


0.0

1 (3.7%)


0 (0.0%)

9 (33.3%)

9 (33.3%)

Cycadaceae

20

5.0


45.0

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

15 (75.0%)

12 (60.0%)

Iridaceae

21

33.3


4.8

2 (9.5%)


0 (0.0%)

2 (9.5%)


3 (14.3%)

Menyanthaceae

25

20.0


4.0

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

5 (20.0%)

8 (32.0%)

Cupressaceae

24

37.5


4.1

2 (8.3%)


0 (0.0%)

4 (16.7%)

4 (16.7%)

Lythraceae

18

0.0


11.1

1 (5.6%)


0 (0.0%)

5 (27.8%)

5 (27.8%)

Onagraceae

16

37.5


0.0

3 (18.7%)

2 (12.5%)

1 (6.2%)


1 (6.2%)

Nyctaginaceae

16

12.5


12.5

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

2 (12.5%)

5 (31.2%)

Smilacaceae

13

53.8


0.0

4 (30.8%)

3 (23.1%)

1 (7.7%)


1 (7.7%)

Asteliaceae

15

66.7


0.0

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

4 (26.7%)

4 (26.7%)

Ericaceae

13

84.6


0.0

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)


0 (0.0%)

16

Introduction

Australia has a diverse flora with a very high level of endemism. However, the flora of 

Australia is under threat from several areas and remains in need of protection. Land clearance 

represents a very serious threat to the ongoing survival of most if not nearly all species.  

Since 1788, over 700,000 km

2

(about 20%) of woodland and forest have been cleared or 



thinned, primarily for crops and grazing. A further 130,000 km

2

(35%) of mallee have been 



cleared since 1788, along with 20,000 km

2

of heath (45%), over 60,000 km



2

(10%) of 

tussock grassland and smaller areas of other grasslands (National Land and Water Resources 

Audit 2001).  Habitat loss continues with the 2001 annual rate of vegetation clearance being 

around 248,000 hectares (National Land and Water Resources Audit 2001).  Hence habitat 

loss is a serious threat for species where the majority of habitat required by a species is 

already lost or under immediate threat.

The Australian Government is building a network of protected areas, called the National 

Reserve System (NRS), which aims to “contain samples of all ecosystems identified at an 

appropriate regional scale” (see http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/nrs/science/scientific-

framework.html).  More specifically, this is based on the widely used criteria of preserving a 

minimum of 10% of each biome (McNeely 1993; Archer and Orr 2008).  Furthermore, the 

criteria based on the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) to protect the remaining forests in 

Australia is a target of 15% of pre-1750 (pre-European) vegetation types (Commonwealth of 

Australia 1996), although this has not been believed to have been achieved in many cases 

(e.g., Flint et al 2004).  Whilst sound in principle, the actual success of these reserves in 

protecting populations of species remains unknown.

A simple approach to assessing the potential effectiveness of reservations in protecting 

species is to determine the proportion of record sites (from hereon simply records) for each 

species that falls within Protected Areas (Pas).  If few records fall within PAs it suggests that 

a species may not be well protected.  Conversely, if relatively large numbers of records fall 

within reserves, then a species may be moderately secure from the effects of habitat loss and 

degradation.  Overall we could expect the percentages of records in reserves to be similar to 

the percentage of reserved lands available within Australia if records were being accrued by 

chance alone and species were randomly distributed across the differing land tenures.

Additional means of assessing the effectiveness of reserves in protecting flora relate to their 

size and the number of reserves that contain populations of a species.  Island biogeography 

theory suggests that larger reserves are more valuable as conservation areas than small ones 

due to edge effects, area to perimeter ratios, greater ranges of habitats and larger areas having 

larger populations that are likely to be more robust (Lomolino, 1994).  Greater conservation 

value is also likely where populations occur in multiple reserves rather than one single 

reserve as localized extinctions due to stochastic events are almost inevitable.  Hence, a 

spread of populations across the landscape should lessen the likelihood of total extinction 

whilst increasing the opportunities for rescue events through recolonisation, providing that 

areas remain connected.  Considering the number of larger reserves in which species are 

found and the number of reserves in total are two potentially useful measures of the potential 

for the NRS to protect a species.  

In this study, we collate records for each species in a range of speciose groups and determine 

the number and proportions of records within listed NRS protected areas (PAs), including in 

how many different reserves species are found and how many of these reserves are 1000ha or 



17

larger (following Rodrigues et al 2004).  We are particularly interested in seeing if there are 

common biological or geographical characteristics for species that are either well or under 

“reserved”.  This can provide indications of the level of protection likely to be afforded to 

species for which we have few site records.  Species that are likely to be under represented in 

reserves can be considered for priority conservation action if land clearance and/or 

degradation is likely to be an immediate and severe threatening process.

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