Hidden beard heath (leucopogon obtectus) recovery plan


Achieve long-term protection of habitat



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3. Achieve long-term protection of habitat

Improving the security of populations and their habitat will be investigated. On private land this may include conservation covenants with a range of agencies or registration through the Land for Wildlife scheme. The reservation status of the land parcels that support Populations 1f and 3a (Unallocated Crown Land) and Populations 1c, 1e and 3c (class C Nature Reserve) will be reviewed, and the possibility of additional protection through the reserve system investigated.



Action: Achieve long-term protection of habitat

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $1,500 per year.

4. Map habitat critical to the survival of the species

It is a requirement of the EPBC Act that spatial data relating to habitat critical to the survival of the species be determined. Although this is described in Section 1, the areas as described have not yet been comprehensively mapped and that will be redressed under this action. If any additional populations are located, then habitat critical to the survival of the species will also be determined and mapped for these locations.



Action: Map habitat critical to the survival of the species

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District, Species and Communities Branch (SCB)) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $4,000 in the first year.

5 Monitor populations
Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion, and plant diseases such as Phytophthora cinnamomi), population stability (expansion or decline), pollination activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation of the seed is important
The visibility of Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers should also be monitored to ensure they remain effective, and have not faded or been covered by vegetation growth.
Fire is likely to have a significant impact on Leucopogon obtectus populations. Fire occurrence and frequency should be monitored in relation to known or likely areas of occupancy for the species. This includes:



  • Monitoring and determining the impact of occasional and concurrent fires on known populations and their subsequent recovery.

  • Monitoring the impact of fires on possible recruitment of Leucopogon obtectus populations from latent seed bank reserves in areas where plants have died.

Status of soil seedbanks should be monitored for all populations where inappropriate disturbance may be:




  • diminishing reserves though repeated stimulation without replenishment or

  • gradual decline through loss of viability of seed not exposed to required germination stimuli.

Monitoring programs should be undertaken by mining agencies responsible for rehabilitation of disturbed habitat. Data and regular reports from these programs should be made available to the recovery team as required.



Action: Monitor populations

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District), Main Roads Western Australia and MERIWA through the MDTFRT. Also Curtin and Melbourne Universities through Iluka Resources.

Cost: $1,600 per year.

6. Conduct further surveys

Further surveys by DEC staff and community volunteers should be conducted during the flowering period of the species (October to March). As populations of the species are impacted upon in some areas by mineral sand mining, permission to take plants in the course of such mining operations should involve reference to the percentage of plants to be taken in comparison to the total numbers of known plants. In this context the mining operator or proponent should be encouraged to contribute to the costs and/or labour involved in surveying current population numbers within and outside the current mining lease.


Particular attention should be given to surveying population 1 north of Eneabba to ascertain its current status following fires that have occurred in the area. Other areas of likely habitat should also be surveyed periodically, particularly areas that have been disturbed by fire which may stimulate recruitment from a latent seedbank. Records of areas surveyed should be sent to Species and Communities Branch and retained at the district office, even if Leucopogon obtectus is not found.

Action: Conduct further surveys

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $2,500 per year in the first, third and fifth years with contribution from Mining operator (Iluka Resources Ltd).

7 Obtain biological and ecological information


Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Leucopogon obtectus will provide a scientific basis for its management in the wild. An understanding of the following is necessary for effective management:

  1. Soil seed bank dynamics, including seedbank location and viability and replacement or reduction.

  2. The role of various disturbances (including fire), competition, rainfall and grazing in germination and recruitment.

  3. The pollination biology of the species.

  4. The requirements of pollinators.

  5. The reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth of the species.

  6. Characterisation of fungal symbionts and their presence at existing and potential Leucopogon obtectus sites

  7. Determine if current seed predation is of sufficient impact to warrant further investigation

  8. Determine required levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.


Action: Obtain biological and ecological information

Responsibility: DEC (Science Division, Moora District), MERIWA and BGPA through the MDTFRT. Also Curtin and Melbourne Universities through Iluka Resources.

Cost: $12,000 per year in the second, third and fourth years.

8 Collect and preserve genetic material
It is necessary to store germplasm as a genetic resource, ready for use in translocations and as an ex situ genetic “reservoir” of the species. The germplasm stored will include, if possible, seed and live plants in cultivation. As only limited seed has been collected from one population of Leucopogon obtectus additional collections should be made from a wider variety of locations. This is important to maintain adequate representation of the genetic diversity of the species as well as maintain the historical processes that have shaped the genetic character of the species. Poor germination of seed tested to date indicates the need for other sources of germplasm. This will require the development of effective techniques for long term storage of such material. To achieve this, alternative sources of effective plant material may need to be identified, collected and tested. Mycorrhizal fungi are likely to be an important symbiont and should be collected and stored in conjunction with any plant germplasm.

Action: Collect viable seed, vegetative and mycorrhizal material. Develop techniques and protocols for storing and maintaining these materials as living ex situ collections.

Responsibility: DEC (TFSC, Moora Districts) and BGBA through the MDTFRT

Cost: $2,200 in the first, third and fifth years.

9 Research and Develop techniques for propagating Leucopogon obtectus for translocation.

Further research should be conducted to improve techniques for propagating plants suitable for translocation. This may involve:



  • improving the current low ex situ germination rate of seed

  • improving the survival of plants generated from micro propagated tissue material

  • Establishing the symbiotic requirements for long term survival of propagated plants at translocation sites.

Action:

Responsibility: DEC (TFSC, Moora District), MERIWA and BGBA through the MDTFRT. Also Curtin University through Iluka Resources.

Cost: $9000 over first 3 years.

10. Stimulate regeneration

Techniques should be researched and developed for facilitating in situ recruitment of Leucopogon obtectus populations. Where a significant proportion of the species occurrence shows signs of senescence with little recruitment experimental disturbance trials may need to be considered. The purpose of such trials would be to ascertain those methods most effective, in facilitating in situ recruitment. If a fire trial is found to be necessary, it should be undertaken with care and its impact limited to a small area. As fire has the potential to encourage the invasion of weeds effective follow-up weed control will need to be undertaken as necessary. Monitoring of trials will include documenting the response of associated species and any negative impacts such as the level weed invasion. Monitoring of regeneration should continue for at least three years and preferably until it is established that the regenerated plants have reached reproductive maturity and are actively contributing to the seedbank.



Action: Stimulate regeneration

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $2,000 per year.

11. Implement weed control if required

The current level of threat from weeds is low at most populations. However, an increase in weed numbers (such as after fire) could impact on Leucopogon obtectus by competing for resources, degrading habitat, exacerbating grazing pressure, and increasing the risk and severity of fire. Recruitment is likely to be particularly affected. If during monitoring it is deemed that the threat from weeds has increased, weed control may need to be undertaken in consultation with the land managers. The methods employed will need to accommodate seasonal considerations and impact on the surrounding native vegetation. All applications of weed control should be followed by a report on the method, timing and success of the treatment against weeds, and the effect on Leucopogon obtectus and associated native plant species.



Action: Implement weed control if required

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District) and relevant land managers through the MDTFRT

Cost: $700 per year.

12. Research fire ecology

Long-term research is required to determine the longevity of Leucopogon obtectus and the time required to replenish seed stores following germination. As this information becomes known, a full fire management strategy will be developed.


Action: Research fire ecology

Responsibility: DEC (Science Division and Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $6,000 in year 1; $2,500 in years 2, 3, 4 and 5.

13. Implement a fire management strategy

No planned burns will occur in the habitat of populations until a full fire management strategy has been developed. This will include recommendations on prescription fire frequency and intensity, precautions to prevent fire, a strategy for reacting to wildfire and the need, method of construction and maintenance of firebreaks. This will be implemented by DEC District staff in consultation with land managers.

Action: Implement a fire management strategy

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District) and Iluka through the MDTFRT

Cost: $3,500 in year 5.



14. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of this species will be promoted to the community through poster displays and the local print and electronic media. Formal links with local naturalist groups and interested individuals will also be encouraged. An information sheet will be produced, and will include a description of the plant, its habitat, threats, recovery actions and photos. This will be distributed to the public through DEC’s Moora District office and at the offices and libraries of the Shires of Carnamah and Coorow. Such information distribution may lead to the discovery of new populations.



Action: Promote awareness

Responsibility: DEC (Moora and Merredin Districts) through the Recovery Teams

Cost: $1,700 in first year, and $1,100 per year.

15. Undertake and monitor a translocation


If attempts to stimulate regeneration are not successful, translocations may need to be considered for the conservation of this species. This approach will require the development of a translocation proposal and selection of suitable translocation sites. Normal protocols involve the propagation of material prior to planting out in accordance with an approved Translocation Proposal. Given the difficulties associated with seed germination for the species and the experimental nature of vegetative micropropagation techniques to date, alternative methods, other than ex-situ propagation, may need to be investigated. For example, seedbank augmentation from relocated topsoil or harvested vegetation, accompanied by appropriate germination stimuli. Information on the translocation of threatened plants and animals in the wild is provided in the Department's Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. All translocation proposals require endorsement by the Department’s Director of Nature Conservation.

Monitoring of the translocation is essential and will be undertaken according to the timetable developed for the Translocation Proposal.



Action: Undertake and monitor translocation

Responsibility: DEC (Moora District, TFSC) and BGPA through the MDTFRT. Also Iluka.

Cost: $10,000 in the third year and $5000 in the fifth year.
16. Install DRF markers
DRF markers will be required at Populations 1a, 1d and 3g on Brand Highway, and Population 1c on Beekeepers Road. The installation of these markers will take place during monitoring of the species in its flowering period. These will help road maintenance workers to avoid accidental damage to the plants or their habitat.

Action: Install DRF markers

Responsibility: Various (Iluka Resources, Main Roads Western Australia, Shire of Coorow/Carnamah) with assistance from DEC (Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $200 in first year.

17. Review the Recovery plan and assess the need for further recovery actions

At the end of its five-year term this plan will be reviewed and the need for further recovery actions will be assessed.



Action: Review the plan and assess the need for further recovery actions

Responsibility: DEC (SCB, Moora District) through the MDTFRT

Cost: $1,000 in the fifth year.

Summary of Recovery action costs
Total DEC: $75,200

Total Other: $13,800

Total External Funding: $108,200

Total Costs: $197,200



4. TERM OF PLAN
Western Australia
This plan will operate from March 2006 to February 2011 but will remain in force until withdrawn or replaced. If the taxon is still ranked EN (IUCN 2001) in Western Australia after five years, the need for further recovery actions will be determined. The current plan was updated in March 2010.
Commonwealth
In accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) this adopted recovery plan will remain in force until revoked.
The recovery plan must be reviewed at intervals of not longer than 5 years.

5. REFERENCES
Atkins, K. (2009) Declared Rare and Priority Flora List for Western Australia. Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth, Western Australia.

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

Bunn, E., Dixon, K.W., and M.A. Langley, (1989), In vitro propagation of Leucopogon obtectus Benth. (Epacridaceae) Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 19: pp77-84. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands.

Bunn, E. personal communication


DEC (2009) Western Australian Herbarium FloraBase 2 – Information on the Western Australian Flora. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia. Accessed 2003. http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/science/

CALM (1995) Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia.

CALM (1994) Policy Statement No. 50 Setting Priorities for the Conservation of Western Australia’s Threatened Flora and Fauna. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia.

CALM (1992) Policy Statement No. 44 Wildlife Management Programs. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia.

CALM (1990) Threatened Flora Database (DEFL). Species and Communities Branch, Department of Conservation & Land Management, Western Australia. Accessed 2003.

DEC (2009) Western Australian Herbarium FloraBase 2 – Information on the Western Australian Flora. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia. Accessed 2003. http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/science/


Keighery, G.J. (1988). Dieback briefing paper. I, Epacridaceae. Department of Conservation and Land Management. Perth. Western Australia.

Leigh, J., Boden, R. and Briggs, J. (1984) Extinct and Endangered Plants of Australia. The Macmillan Co. of Australia Pty Ltd. Hong Kong.

Lewis, J., (1981) Conostylis sp.tomentosa, Isopogon tridens (Meisn), F. Muell, Leucopogon obtectus Benth in Rare and geographically restricted plants of Western Australia 8, Dept. of Fisheries & Wildlife, Perth.

World Conservation Union (2001) IUCN Red List Categories: Version 3.1. Prepared by the IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.



Zawko, G., Krauss, S.L., Dixon, K.W., and K. Sivasithamparam, (2001). Conservation genetics of the rare and endangered Leucopogon obtectus (Ericaceae), Molecular Ecology 10, pp2389-2396, Blackwell Science Ltd.

6. TAXONOMIC DESCRIPTION
Leigh, J., Boden, R. and Briggs, J. (1984) Extinct and Endangered Plants of Australia. The Macmillan Co. of Australia. Pp 190-191.
Shrub to about 1.5m high with a few long, erect branches completely covered by the foliage. Leaves are stalkless, with a pale bluish-green bloom, broadly heart-shaped to ovate or orbicular, about 1 cm in diameter and ending in a small sharp point, rigid, concave and overlapping along the stems. Flowers are creamy-yellow, very small, borne 2 or 3 together on very short peduncles arising singly from the lead axils and not projecting beyond the leaves. The lanceolate sepals are 4 mm long and the corolla tube is nearly as long as the calyx and has rather short lobes. Fruit is not described. Flowering October to November.
NOTE: Fruit is described by Brown, et.al, (1998) as; smooth, green, egg-shaped and containing a single seed.



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