A u s t r a L i a n n e t w o r k f o r p L a n t c o n s e r V a t I o n


Re-establishing a recalcitrant species following mining: Macrozamia



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Re-establishing a recalcitrant species following mining: Macrozamia 

riedlei 

D Korczynskyj, R Douglas and J Koch 

University of Notre Dame Australia, PO Box 1225, Fremantle WA 6959  

Alcoa of Australia Ltd, PO Box 172, Pinjarra WA 6208 

Successful re-vegetation following mining is variable and is dependent on the type of exploration and 

subsequent rehabilitation approach, the intrinsic characteristics of the landscape, and the species 

concerned. Alcoa works to return the endemic understorey species, Macrozamia riedlei, to its bauxite 

mined sites in the northern jarrah forest of southwestern Australia through hand seeding. However, re-

establishment of this species has proven difficult. Plant density, cover, size and biomass measurements 

collected from mined and unmined sites were used to establish the survival and growth of this 

recalcitrant species. The density of M. riedlei was low on mined sites (<100 plants.ha

-1

) in contrast to 



unmined forest (500-1395 plants.ha

-1

), and reflects seeding rates and plant survival. The survival of M. 



riedlei on mined sites declined with time since seeding (r

2

=0.205, p=0.015) and plant growth, measured 

as the change in plant cover over time, was inconsistent between sites. However, the very small size of 

plants on all mined sites, even after 15 years, suggested poor growth. Plant biomass and size were 

positively correlated with age, confirming that plants on the mined sites were growing, albeit at a slow 

rate (e.g. for above ground biomass, r



2

=0.182,  p=0.005). The rapid growth of other understorey and 

overstorey species on the mined sites (70% and 60-70% cover respectively after 12 years) suggested a 

level of competition that would negatively impact establishment success of M. riedlei.  However, the 

positive influence of fire on the growth of M. riedlei showed potential for ameliorating the negative impact 

of overcrowding. 



Assessing botanical capacity in the United States: gaps identified and 

strategic recommendations made to maximize conservation success 

Andrea Kramer 

Executive Director, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S., Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook 

Road, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA. 

The botanical community plays a mission-critical role in researching, conserving, and sustainably 

managing the world’s plant diversity and resources.  Botanical expertise is required to address current 

and future grand challenges and issues, including climate change mitigation, land management and 

wildlife habitat restoration, understanding the provision of ecosystem services, management and control 

of invasive species, and the conservation and recovery of rare species.  Despite the fundamental role 

botanical capacity plays in tackling each of these issues, a recently published report in the United States 

reveals severe shortages of botanists at government agencies, a wave of upcoming retirements, and an 

alarming decline in botanical degree programs and course offerings at the nation’s colleges and 

universities. The result of a year-long project which surveyed nearly 1,700 members of the United States 

botanical community, this report describes how private sector organizations are helping to fill identified 

gaps in capacity being created by declines in the academic and government sectors, and urges action 

across all sectors to work more strategically to more effectively pool resources and ensure program 

sustainability and conservation success into the future.  While this project focused on the United States, 

its results illustrate how any nation’s science, sustainability, and land management agenda will suffer, 

opportunities to economically and efficiently solve environmental challenges will be lost, and public and 

private lands will continue to degrade if botanical capacity is not valued, understood, and sufficiently 

supported. 



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Australian Network for Plant Conservation 8



th

 National Conference

 

Ecological genetics of Penstemon in the Great Basin, U.S.A. 

Andrea Kramer 

Executive Director, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S., Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook 

Road, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA. 

Ecological genetics research was carried out on multiple populations of three common forb species in 

the Great Basin (Penstemon deustus, P. pachyphyllus, and P. rostriflorus) to understand the interacting 

effects of geographic isolation, distance, topography, climate, and pollination syndrome on population 

genetic differentiation of each species.  Research included microsatellite DNA analysis, common garden 

studies, and experimental crosses to test for inbreeding and outbreeding depression in different species 

and populations.  Results revealed significant genetic diversity and divergence among populations in 

both neutral and potentially adaptive genetic traits for all three species, but there were striking 

differences in study results depending upon the primary pollinator of each species.  The hummingbird-

pollinated species had much greater gene flow among populations than the two bee-pollinated species, 

but this greater gene flow did not translate to lower divergence in quantitative traits.  However, the first 

generation of experimental crosses spanning increasing geographic and genetic distances revealed 

both inbreeding and outbreeding depression in progeny of the bee-pollinated P. pachyphyllus, which had 

the highest degree of population divergence.  No negative fitness effects were identified in first 

generation crosses of the hummingbird-pollinated P. rostriflorus.  While additional research on these and 

similar species is urgently needed, these results provide insight into the development of seed transfer 

zones and can help guide the movement and mixing of seeds for different forb species being used in 

ecological restoration efforts.  



A practical genetic contribution towards best-practise seed-sourcing 

guidelines for ecological restoration 

Siegy Krauss  

Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue, West Perth WA, 6005 

Whilst there remains an on-going need to research the consequences of seed-sourcing decisions 

associated with the provenance and properties of source populations, restoration practitioners urgently 

require practical and specific seed-sourcing guidelines to achieve key objectives for current ecological 

restoration activities. To address this practical need, we have utilized powerful molecular markers, an 

efficient sampling approach and novel statistical procedures to generate data on spatial genetic 

structure for many species associated with ecological restoration projects in south-west Australia. A 

general finding of significant genetic structure, a positive association between geographic and genetic 

distance, and marked population differentiation, reiterates the importance of local provenance sourcing 

of genetically diverse seed. For restored populations, there is a need to achieve functionality, self-

sustainability and resilience for long-term viability in the face of environmental challenges. Genetic 

monitoring provides a powerful tool to assess this objective, through a comparison of patterns of mating, 

pollen dispersal and genetic diversity of offspring in, and genetic connectivity among, restored and 

undisturbed populations, and through a genetic assessment of the delivery of pollinator services for 

effective pollination. An example is presented with a keystone Banksia species, from which general 

principles are identified. 

An interesting plant community of hypo-saline seasonal lakes in the Muir-

Unicup catchment, Western Australia 

Terry Macfarlane & Roger Hearn,  

Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 2, Manjimup WA 6258 

The Muir-Unicup Recovery Catchment near Manjimup, Western Australia, has a variety of wetlands 

including a number of shallow, seasonally wet brackish or hypo-saline lakes. When dry these lakes are 

bare but when wet they support a dense community of aquatic plants that has been little-studied in this 

region. These lakes are demanding habitats, drying out completely in summer, wetting up to varying 

levels in accordance with rainfall, fluctuating in depth, high in pH, and low in salinity when full and 

becoming progressively more saline as the water dries out through evaporation. A specialized assembly 

of a small number of annual or geophytic macrophyte species occupies these lakes, providing shelter 

and food, directly or as an algal substrate, for invertebrates, and grazing for waterbirds. The plants 

include species of RuppiaLepilaenaCharaLamprothamniumTrithuriaTriglochin, and two species of 

the aquatic liverwort genus Riella that has not been known in WA previously. At least two of these plants 

are either recently named or as yet un-named, which emphasizes the limited study that this community 


   

 

 



 

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 Australian Network for Plant Conservation 8

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has received. Topics discussed concerning this community include the degree of naturalness of the 

Muir-Unicup occurrences, other occurrences and similar communities, the individual distributions of the 

component plant species, the phylogenetic relationships of the species, evolutionary and historical 

implications of the existence of this community, and conservation of these wetlands and their biota. 

Recent recognition of unexpected richness of Wurmbea in Midwest, 

Murchison and Gascoyne rangelands 

Terry Macfarlane & Andrew Brown 

Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 2, Manjimup WA 6258 

Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983 

Wurmbea (Colchicaceae) is a genus of geophytes that survive summer as underground corms, come up 

in winter, and flower at different times, depending on the species, from autumn to spring but mostly in 

winter. Most Australian species of Wurmbea are endemic to Western Australia where they have been 

considered to be concentrated in the south west forest, coast and agricultural areas with only a few in 

the arid zone. Field work in recent years has shown an unexpectedly large number of species in the 

rangelands of the Midwest, Murchison and Gascoyne, including the adjacent coast. It is likely, given the 

remoteness of these places, that additional species will be discovered. Most of these species are un-

described, with poorly known distributions. Several are currently known from single locations, with some 

potentially threatened by grazing and mining. They often grow on hills or rocky surfaces in harsh 

environments and are highly dependent for growth and flowering on adequate and appropriately timed 

rains. We illustrate a selection of the species, their habitats and distributional range, and discuss some 

conservation issues concerning land use that these recent discoveries raise. 



Engaging with industry in plant conservation – The State of Play in 2010 

Libby Mattiske 

Mattiske Consulting Pty Ltd, PO Box 437, Kalamunda WA 6076 

A review of the role of Industry in plant conservation reflects a shift in the definition and management of 

plant conservation issues in Western Australia and Australia.  Whilst this review will concentrate on the 

last few decades, a historical context will also be given of changes in the industry and perceptions of the 

roles and responsibilities of different groups in 2010.  

There is no doubt that increasing legal requirements for undertaking comprehensive, adequate and 

representative surveys have assisted in the changes that have occurred. Without industry and 

independent consultants many of these issues would not have been clarified and the regulators would 

have been in more difficult positions in terms of determining environmental outcomes. In many instances 

research efforts are not necessarily driven by development activities. 

Industry groups have assisted in increasing our knowledge of plant species and communities.  The 

information collated on variations in plant species, plant communities, site preferences through aerial 

interpretations, geographical extent and regeneration strategies have assisted in many phases of 

planning improved environmental outcomes. Examples include the recent improvement in knowledge of 

species such as Conospermum toddii and some of the priority species on the Yellow Sandplain 

communities east of Kalgoorlie through a range of regional studies undertaken by consultants in 

cooperation with the Department of Environment and Conservation, Energy and Minerals Australia and 

the Tropicana Joint Venture. 

Spatial genetic structure in a rare banded ironstone endemic: implications 

for restoration 

Melissa A. Millar and David J. Coates 

Science Division Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983 



Acacia woodmaniorum is a sprawling, prickly shrub with high substrate specificity for the rock crevices of 

a highly restricted series of hematite/magnetite-rich outcrops currently covered by mining leases.  In 

order to assess species genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure we sampled 573 plants from 33 

locations across the species range and genotyped individuals at 15 microsatellite loci.  Despite its rarity 



A. woodmaniorum is not genetically depauperate.  The species maintains a high degree of allelic 

diversity (P = 95.15, A = 4.33, H

= 0.531, H



o

 = 0.529), the majority of which (69%) occurs within 



        30  

 

Australian Network for Plant Conservation 8



th

 National Conference

 

individuals so that diversity is correlated to population size.  Genetic differentiation among populations 



increases with geographic distance (P = 0.001, R

2

 = 0.0688) but remains low (F



ST

 = 0.0977, or 24% of 

species diversity), suggesting that significant levels of gene flow are maintained among populations via 

pollen or seed dispersal.  The Blue Hills population and the three most westerly populations of the main 

range contain 12.56% of the species total allelic diversity and 44.90% of private alleles.  These are also 

the populations most likely to be impacted by mining activities.  Loss of this diversity may directly impact 

the species capacity for future adaptation and persistence and, given their location within the species 

range, may also adversely affect the maintenance of genetic continuity among populations.  We suggest 

comprehensive seed collection from these populations and a restoration program that considers 

geographic positioning in the landscape.   



Modelling species’ distributions improves understanding of the 

ecological, translocation and restoration requirements of two rare Banded 

Ironstone Formation (BIF) endemic species 

Ben P Miller  

Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue, West Perth WA 6005.  

The distribution of any taxon results from evolutionary, ecological and historical processes operating 

across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Modelling the distribution of rare plant species can help to 

identify factors limiting their distribution as well as likely sites for survey for new populations, the location 

and attributes of ideal sites for translocation programs, and environmental requirements for restoration 

sites. It can also provide valuable insights into species’ interactions with disturbance regimes and threats 

as well as provide specific testable hypotheses in relation to their environmental interactions and 

limitations.  

The distributions of Darwinia masonii (Myrtaceae) and Lepidosperma gibsonii (Cyperaceae) were 

modelled using a maximum entropy approach in MaxEnt. Models were derived from >900 presence 

records for each species, together with environmental data on geology, fire history, aspect, solar 

radiation receipt, slope, slope curvature and elevation for a 12 × 8 km area incorporating the species’ 

known distributions. D. masonii and L. gibsonii are Declared Rare Flora endemic to the region of the Mt 

Gibson BIF range – which is subject to mining development.  

Model outputs identify fascinating differences in the behaviour and environment interactions of the two 

co-occurring species. They identify environmental parameters limiting growth for one species and 

provide insights into the ecological requirements of both species, including their differing degrees of 

niche occupancy. In turn, these suggest differing likelihoods of success for translocation programs and 

differing requirements for restoration. Studies of the ecophysiology, demography and fire responses are 

underway to answer research questions raised by the model predictions. 

Molecular taxonomy as a conservation tool, testing species hypotheses in 

the biodiversity hotspot of southwest Western Australia 

Michael Moody 

Science Division Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983 

University of Western Australia, Crawley WA, 6009,  

Taxonomy, through species delimitation, plays an essential role in conservation given the high status 

designated to "rare species" in worldwide conservation legislation. Species delimitation of plants is 

primarily based on morphological descriptors, which sometimes come with levels of uncertainty, 

especially regarding species complexes where continuity or intergradation of character states is 

common. "Cryptic species" also pose challenges where long term geographic isolation along with habitat 

and/or climatic differences would hypothesise species delimitation, but clear morphological variation is 

lacking. DNA data provide a viable source to test our species hypotheses and provide valuable insight 

into the designation of conservation entities. Molecular systematic studies of two West Australian 

species complexes (1. Petrophile brevifolia and 2. Myriophyllum petraeum) demonstrate the utility of 

molecular taxonomy in cases of morphological uncertainty with conservation implications. Both are 

endemic to the Southwest Floristic Region (SWFR) with P. brevifolia representing a complex with a 

continuous distribution across a wide geographic range and M. petraeum representing a complex with 

several disjunct populations in the granite outcrop system. Molecular results support and clarify species 

delimitations hypothesized from a mosaic of morphology, geography, habitat and/or phenology in these 

complexes. These results, along with a growing international literature in molecular systematics testing 

species hypotheses, support an increased use of DNA based data as a conservation tool into the future, 


   

 

 



 

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 Australian Network for Plant Conservation 8

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not only for taxonomy, but also to explore "genetic diversity" as part of Australian conservation 

legislation. 

Vegetation mapping in service of biodiversity conservation: Global 

perspective and WA prospects 

Ladislav Mucina  

Curtin Institute for Biodiversity & Climate, Department of Environment & Agriculture, Curtin University, GPO Box 

U1987, Perth WA 6845; Email: L.Mucina@curtin.edu.au

 

Vegetation mapping is an essential tool of biological survey and they are excellent surrogates for 

biodiversity patterns at various scales of complexity. Vegetation maps inform biodiversity conservation at 

various scales: they stratify regions into manageable spatial units, aid identification of potential 

conservation areas, allow for setting conservation targets (what proportion of the extant cover of various 

vegetation types should be protected?), and assist in identification of rare and endangered ecosystems 

and habitats of rare flora. Several European, American and African examples of using vegetation 

mapping to answer biodiversity conservation challenges are discussed. Vegetation mapping is a core 

procedure in vegetation condition assessment. European and Australian experience in this specific 

application is briefly reviewed and compared. Western Australia faces new challenges putting the 

accumulated spatial biodiversity information (distribution of species, local/regional centers of diversity 

and endemism, fine-scale vegetation mapping etc.) into service of the state-wide biodiversity 

conservation targets. The legendary structure-based mapping by J.S. Beard, still quite well informative 

at coarse (state-wide) scale, does not match the requirements of modern biodiversity management at 

regional and local scales. New vegetation mapping products, reflecting the ecological and evolutionary 

matrix at regional and local scales, are needed. This paper outlines in brief this new task and reports on 

progress of the new vegetation mapping programme in WA. 

Rehabilitation in deep sand in a mine east of Albany, Western Australia 

Anna Napier,  

GHD Pty Ltd, 239 Adelaide Tce, Perth WA 6000 

A sand mine has been established approximately 70 km east of Albany in a deep, white sand formation.  

The vegetation of the mine area is relatively intact, despite previous grazing and fires, and supports a 



Eucalyptus staeri, Banksia attenuata overstorey over a dense and diverse range of shrubs and sedges.   

The Notice of Intent for the mine approval committed the owners to small areas of clearing each year, 

followed by rehabilitation as soon as practicable.  The rehabilitation was to occur via topsoil stripping 

and replacement but there were no specific compliance requirements in relation to land shaping or 

vegetative success.   

The mine operator commenced rehabilitation in 1996/7 and monitoring of rehabilitation quality has 

occurred generally annually since 2002.  The rehabilitation has achieved good success in terms of 

biodiversity and coverage with some interesting exceptions.   The paper considers the restoration 

issues, and the outcomes achieved, in a region where few rehabilitation attempts of this scale have 

been made. 




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