The rainforest and related vegetation of the Planning Area support a large variety of fauna and flora species. These include many that are naturally restricted, such as Albert’s Lyrebird Menura alberti, Fleay's Barred Frog Mixophyes fleayi, Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Ornithoptera richmondia, Nightcap Oak Eidothea hardeniana, Ormeau Bottletree Brachychiton sp. Ormeau, Springbrook Pinkwood Eucryphia jinksii and Davidson's Plum.
Priority rainforest and related species and ecological communities are those occurring in the Planning Area that are threatened species, threatened ecological communities, or species that are not listed as threatened but are considered to be of conservation significance. For the purpose of the Plan, only species that are rainforest-dependent or that occur in rainforest or related vegetation were considered. Priority species of the Planning Area include a broad range of groups or life forms, covering flora, terrestrial vertebrate fauna, freshwater fin fish, invertebrate fauna and ecological communities (see Table 6). The full list of priority species and ecological communities can be found in Appendix 2. This Plan covers either the part range or full range of 25 priority ecological communities and 273 priority species, including 107 fauna and 166 flora species.
Priority species groups or life forms
Group or life form
Number of priority taxa
Shrub or small tree
Priority threatened species and ecological communities are those listed under one or more of the Acts:
Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 or Fisheries Management Act 1994
The number of threatened species and ecological communities listed under these Acts that are addressed by this Plan is summarised in Table 7. There are 58 threatened fauna, 134 threatened flora, and 25 threatened ecological communities covered by this Plan.
Those species that are not listed as threatened but are considered a priority in the Plan are either endemic to the Planning Area or are species of particular conservation concern. There are 32 flora and 49 fauna species of non-threatened priorities species (see Appendix 2). These species were identified through two processes: 1) consultation with ecological experts, government department representatives and members of the community; 2) identification of species based on their relative distributions inside and outside the Planning Area.
The species and ecological communities addressed by the Plan will continue to be updated as new threatened listings are made or as new information becomes available.
Summary of threatened species and ecological communities addressed by this Plan
Threatened ecological community or regional ecosystem
* under the definition of the Queensland Fisheries Act 1994 only; ^ Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby excluded in NSW component of Planning Area; - = not applicable.
2.7.1Flora and fauna assemblages
Floristically, the Planning Area forms part of the Macleay–McPherson overlap (Burbidge 1960). This is a distinct phyto-geographical zone between the McPherson Ranges in the north and the Macleay River in the south that contains tropical and temperate species, many at the limits of their distributions. Over 4000 different plants have been recorded from within the area. This rich assemblage of plant species results in a complex mosaic of vegetation communities that has led to national and international recognition of the outstanding biodiversity of this zone (NPWS 1995).
Given the large number of priority flora species (166), species were assigned to one of five trait-based groups (Kooyman & Rossetto 2007, provided in Appendix 6 on the enclosed CD). This was done to help define risk-based assessment categories and inform management priorities and actions for all species, even those for which little ecological information was available. Information that was used to develop these five groups included life history information (e.g. seed size, fruit type, dispersal mode, leaf size and persistence), broad vegetation type and landscape unit (see Section 3.2) the species occurs in (see Kooyman & Rossetto 2007).
A brief description of the five trait-based Flora Groups is provided in Table 8, and a listing of species within each Flora Group is provided in Appendix 7. (Appendix 2 also indicates which Group each priority species is in.)
In addition to developing the functional trait groupings, Kooyman and Rosetto (2007) provided an audit of the known information on population size, overall threats to priority species and identified knowledge gaps which can inform future research priorities. More detailed information is provided in Appendix 8 (on the enclosed CD).
Trait-based Flora Groups
Vulnerability to threat
Flora in this group are large-fruited species that are often dispersal-limited, mostly large canopy to medium-to-small persistent trees with the capacity to resprout, and are mature phase shade tolerant rainforest species. One anomaly is Doryanthes palmeri, which is a rocky outcrop specialist with big leaves and big fruits.
Large fruit may mean dispersal limitation and therefore susceptibility to fragmentation and a reduction in dispersal vectors. Species most under threat in this group are those that occur in the lowland landscape (see Section 3.2) where fragmentation is most severe. Species assigned to Flora Groups 1 and 5 can, in some instances, be combined for management purposes.
This group is comprised of small-seeded herbs, sedges, shrubs and trees. A specialist habitat subgroup is dominated by high altitude shrubs and herbs, while a wet sclerophyll habitat subgroup includes sedges and shrubs. A rainforest habitat subgroup includes a variety of life forms that occur in the lowland landscape (see Section 3.2).
The rainforest habitat subgroup of the lowlands landscape is the subgroup most under threat from fragmentation and associated factors. Some specialist habitat species from Flora Group 3 could be included in Flora Group 2 for management purposes.
The flora of this group are mostly ferns, orchids and epiphytes. The group also includes several woody plants and several habitat specialists.
This group includes many species that are potentially under threat from collection. Sedges and specialist habitat herbs from this group could be included in Flora Group 2 for management purposes.
This group contains two subgroupings based on habitats. One representing moist rainforest habitats, including woody vines, trees, shrubs and mistletoes. The second representing species of drier vine forest, wet sclerophyll forest and specialist habitats.
Many of the species in this group are lowland rainforest species and it is probably these that are most under threat due to fragmentation and associated factors such as dispersal.
This flora group contains two subgroupings. The first is of rainforest habitats, mostly persistent (clonal and resprouting) trees and shrubs. The second represents wet sclerophyll and rocky outcrop species.
Clonal species can be resistant to certain disturbance-related threats. However, infrastructure projects that completely remove habitat can still pose a major threat, particularly in the lowland landscape of the Planning Area. Clonal species can potentially be under threat from stochastic or demographic effects because, although they often persist, effective population sizes can be low at sites. Species assigned to Flora Groups 1 and 5 can, in some instances, be combined for management purposes.
Species from all five of the Australian biogeographic terrestrial fauna biotas occur in the Border Ranges region (see Schodde & Calaby 1972; Schodde & Faith 1991; Schodde 1993; Landmark et al. 1999). Priority terrestrial fauna species were grouped into biogeographical biota groups. Most Border Ranges species represent one of three biotas: Torresian, Bassian and Tumbunan (Landmark et al. 1999).
The Torresian biota extends from the tropical, grassy savannah woodlands of northern Australia and is the prevailing non-rainforest biota at altitudes up to 200 m (Tanton 1996). The Bassian biota is the fauna of the eucalypt-dominated forests of southern Australia and is widespread in the Border Ranges region, down to about 200 m altitude where it mingles with the Torresian biota (Tanton 1996). The most important group in the Planning Area is the Tumbunan biota (Landmark et al. 1999) which comprises the subtropical rainforest biota that was formerly distributed continuously across the continent during wetter periods (Schodde & Calaby 1972; Schodde & Faith 1991; Schodde 1993). Table 9 lists the priority fauna species in the Planning Area that have Tumbunan origins.
The Tumbunan fauna is now essentially relictual, having contracted to two main core areas centred on the Border Ranges and the Herbert–Daintree uplands of north-east Queensland. The Tumbunan biota is characterised by fauna with restricted distributions and specialised ecological requirements, and although some species now extend into eucalypt forests, they are Tumbunan in origin (Tanton 1996; Landmark et al. 1999). Due to the relictual nature of this biota, suitable refugia are important to their persistence in the Planning Area. Milledge (2007) recommended that refuge areas become a focus for revegetating cleared gaps, increasing the size of isolated rainforest remnants (including buffering), linking of isolated remnants with larger patches, and generally maintaining or improving overall ecosystem function (see Section 3.3.2).
Non-terrestrial species – for example, fin fish and aquatic invertebrates, including four identified endemic freshwater cray fish (Coughran 2002, 2005) – were grouped into basic assemblages based on the landscape unit (upland, midland or lowland – see Section 3.2) and broad habitat type (rainforest or wet sclerophyll). The vulnerability of these groups was then assessed against the threats identified in the Plan. The Border Ranges region supports a large number of native freshwater fish and crustaceans, some of which are listed as threatened, such as the Eastern Freshwater Cod Maccullochella ikei, or are extremely restricted within the region, such as Euastacus spp., Cherax leckii n. sp. and Tenuibranchiurus sp. (Coughran 2006).
Non-rainforest groups that are ecotonal to and/or interact with rainforest were also considered in this Plan, for example, the northern population of the Eastern Bristlebird Dasyornis brachypterus which has less than 30 individuals still surviving in the wild (D. Stewart pers. comm.).