Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Free "Skats and Skulls" talk next Monday 5th May

Join naturalist Tanya Loos as she shares the delights of being a bush detective through her scat and skull collection.  Highlights include a koala skull, a wedge-tailed eagle pellet and other things which shall not be named because there is a bit of fun, “guess what this is?” component to her talk.

Tanya is a nature columnist for the Hepburn Advocate and author of the book “Daylesford Nature Diary: Six seasons in the foothill forests”. Tanya is also the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network Facilitator. She has lived on a bush block in Porcupine Ridge, in the northern part of the Wombat Forest since 2001. 

7.30 – 8.30 Monday 5th May,
Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House

Monday, 14 April 2014

Locally Rare, Endangered and Significant Species of Riddells Creek - A Reference Guide

This species list is designed as a reference/guide to support the assessment of environmental impacts of future developments in the Riddells Creek area.

The reference list contains species occurring in Riddells Creek that are:

1. listed as rare/endangered in Victoria,
2. locally rare/endangered/significant in the Riddells Creek area using the following criteria ...
  • species where if one area is damaged then 50%+ of Riddells Creek's population will be lost, 
  • species with very few individuals remaining (some plant species are known from only one remaining individual), 
  • species low in numbers and are critical for the survival of other species on this list,
  • species in serious decline. 
In addition, all Eucalyptus trees, of all species indigenous to Riddells Creek, capable of bearing nesting holes in the next 50 years are included as significant to the Riddells Creek environment.

The list, accessed via the link below, exists in the form of a NatureShare collection in which each species have photos attached to help with identification (click on the link below to access the list in NatureShare - NatureShare currently works in Firefox and Chrome, not Microsoft Explorer ... NatureShare was created and developed by members of Riddells Creek Landcare and the Australian Plants Society Keilor Plains Group):

Rare, Locally Endangered and Locally Significant Species of Riddells Creek


Here are the species in their respective groups, with links to them in NatureShare (ie. same list but with photos) - those below in bold are also listed as rare-endangered in Victoria, those in italics are possibly now extinct in the Riddells Creek area since no individuals have been recorded in recent years:

Mammals (4): Brush-tailed Phascogale, Koala, Platypus, Wombat (doesn't include Feathertail Glider as it isn't confirmed in Riddells Creek ... nor are bats and antechinus included because we don't know enough about their local distribution).

Birds (21): Australian Owlet-nightjar, Azure Kingfisher, Bassian Thrush, Black-capped Sittella, Blue-winged Parrot, Brown Goshawk, Buff-banded Rail, Crescent Honeyeater, Grey Currawong, Nankeen Night Heron, Noisy Miner, Painted Button-quail, Peregrine Falcon, Powerful Owl, Rufous Fantail, Rufous Songlark, Sacred Kingfisher, Satin Flycatcher, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Spotted Harrier, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

Frogs (3): Bibron's Toadlet, Growling Grass Frog, Whistling Tree Frog

Butterflies (13): Amethyst Hairstreak, Banks' Brown, Bright Copper, Dull Purple Azure, Forest Brown, Grassland Copper, Imperial Blue, Rare White-spot Skipper, Red-spotted Jezebel, Silky Hairstreak, Sword-grass Brown, Varied Dusky-blue, Varied Sedge-skipper

Moths (1): Oxycanus rufescens

Orchids (26): Alpine Greenhood, Bearded Midge-orchid, Blue Fairy, Early Caladenia, Golden Moths, Great Sun-orchid, Hare Orchid, Mantis Orchid, Parson's Bands, Plain-lip Spider-orchid, Purple Donkey-orchid, Red-tip Greenhood, Salmon Sun-orchid, Scented Sun-orchid, Sharp Midge-orchid, Short-lip Leek-orchid, Small Gnat-orchid, Small Mosquito-orchid, Small Spider-orchid, Spotted Hyacinth-orchid, Spotted Sun-orchid, Summer Greenhood, Tall Potato-orchid, Tiny Greenhood, Tiny Pink-fingers, Wallflower Orchid

Wattles (8): Dwarf Silver Wattle, Gold-dust Wattle, Large-leaf Cinnamon Wattle, Large-leaf Hickory-wattle, Lightwood, Narrow-leaf Wattle, Southern Varnish Wattle, Spreading Wattle

Daisies (21): Brachyscome diversifolia, Chrysocephalum baxteri, Chrysocephalum semipapposum, Craspedia paludicola (Swamp Billy-buttons), Helichrysum leucopsideum, Leptorhynchos squamatus subsp. squamatus, Leucochrysum albicans subsp. albicans var. albicans, Microseris sp. 3 (Yam Daisy), Olearia glandulosa, Olearia rugosa, Ozothamnus ferrugineus, Podolepis jaceoides s.s., Senecio cunninghamii var. cunninghamii, Senecio microbasis, Senecio picridioides, Senecio squarrosus s.s., Siloxerus multiflorus, Stuartina muelleri, Vittadinia gracilis, Vittadinia muelleri, Xerochrysum viscosum

Peas (7): Dillwynia ramosissima, Goodia lotifolia var. lotifolia, Indigofera australis, Platylobium obtusangulum, Pultenaea humilis, Pultenaea pedunculata, Pultenaea scabra

Lilies (5): Arthropodium sp. 3 (Small Chocolate-lily), Caesia calliantha (Blue Grass-lily), Caesia parviflora, Dianella amoena, Hypoxis hygrometrica var. villosisepala

Other plants (81): Ajuga australis, Alisma plantago-aquatica, Allocasuarina littoralis, Allocasuarina verticillata, Alternanthera denticulata s.s., Amperea xiphoclada var. xiphoclada, Amphibromus nervosus, Blechnum minus, Blechnum nudum, Brachyloma ciliatum, Calandrinia calyptrata, Callistemon sieberi, Carpobrotus modestus, Cassytha pubescens s.s., Centrolepis strigosa subsp. strigosa, Cheilanthes sieberi subsp. sieberi, Clematis decipiens, Convolvulus angustissimus subsp. angustissimus, Convolvulus angustissimus subsp. omnigracilis, Coprosma quadrifida, Cryptandra amara s.s., Cyathea australis, Cynoglossum suaveolens, Cyperus lucidus, Daucus glochidiatus, Dicksonia antarctica, Elatine gratioloides, Epilobium billardierianum subsp. cinereum, Eryngium ovinum, Eucalyptus ovata var. ovata, Eucalyptus rubida, Eucalyptus viminalis subsp. viminalis, Euryomyrtus ramosissima subsp. ramosissima, Gahnia sieberiana, Galium leptogonium, Geranium solanderi var. solanderi s.s., Geranium sp. 1, Geranium sp. 3, Gratiola peruviana, Hibbertia fasciculata var. prostrata, Histiopteris incisa, Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides, Hypolepis rugosula, Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. australis, Lepidosperma curtisiae, Lindsaea linearis, Linum marginale, Lissanthe strigosa subsp. subulata, Lomandra nana, Lythrum salicaria, Mazus pumilio, Mentha laxiflora, Myriophyllum crispatum, Opercularia ovata, Ophioglossum lusitanicum, Oreomyrrhis eriopoda, Pelargonium australe, Pelargonium rodneyanum, Pellaea calidirupium, Persoonia chamaepeuce, Pimelea axiflora subsp. axiflora, Pimelea curviflora var. 1, Pimelea glauca, Potamogeton cheesemanii, Ptilotus spathulatus f. spathulatus, Ranunculus glabrifolius, Rubus parvifolius, Rumex dumosus, Sambucus gaudichaudiana, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Stylidium armeria subsp. pilosifolium, Stylidium graminifolium s.s., Triglochin procera s.l., Typha orientalis, Urtica incisa, Villarsia reniformis, Viola betonicifolia subsp. betonicifolia, Viola spp., Wahlenbergia communis s.s., Wahlenbergia luteola, Wahlenbergia multicaulis

NB. the Riddell species list currently contains no reptiles (waiting for an assessment on these) and no insects (other than butterflies and one moth - insects are not easy to work out in terms of distribution/rarity).

Here, separated out, are all the species that are also listed as rare or endangered in Victoria (25):
Species listed as rare/threatened in Victoria 

Here are all the species protected by law via the FFG Act (all 10) and/or EPBC Act (in bold - 2) - those in italics have a significant listing on the IUCN Red List or have been assessed using IUCN Red List criteria and appear to be Critical Endangered (those with an asterisk are yet to be assessed by IUCN):

Dianella amoena (Matted Flax-lily), *Diuris punctata var. punctata (Purple Donkey-orchid), *Geranium sp. 1 (Large-flower Crane's-bill), *Jalmenus icilius (Amethyst Hairstreak), Litoria raniformis (Growling Grass Frog), Ninox strenua (Powerful Owl), Phascogale tapoatafa (Brush-tailed Phascogale), Pseudophryne bibronii (Bibron's Toadlet), *Stylidium armeria subsp. pilosifolium (Hairy-leaf Triggerplant), *Trapezites lutea lutea (Rare White-spot Skipper)


A useful feature of the NatureShare list for Riddells Creek is that it can be cross-referenced easily with other lists on NatureShare (eg. Barrm Birrm plants - 57 species, Mt Charlie plants - 36 species, Wybejong - 9 species, Rail Reserve plants - 35 species ... NB. click on the links to see the species at those sites - and note these are underestimates because they only include plants). New collections can be created on NatureShare by anyone to aid this process.


The Concept of 'Rare'

The concept of 'rare' and 'locally significant' is an interesting one. There are planetary definitions of rare and endangered as defined by the IUCN Red List of species. There are Australia-wide lists of threatened species and ecological communities that are protected by the EPBC Act. And finally there are Victoria-wide lists of threatened species and ecological communities that are protected by the FFG Act. So from a governmental point of view the concept of locally rare is legislated.

The Victorian list is the most interesting in the context of this article. It contains species, protected by law by the FFG Act, that are endangered in Victoria yet the same species is common across the border in NSW. I was once startled by an email discussion that included the comment about a plant that is rare in Victoria but common in NSW, saying 'what is the point of listing it as rare in Victoria'. On reflection I can understand why one might think that. The reason is quite simple. Although Victoria is an artificial concept from an ecological point of view, the State of Victoria is where we live and it is a significant construct for those people who live here. Looking at Victoria as 'where we live', if any species became extinct from Victoria it would be a significant loss to the State. This concept applies to other levels too. It applies to my block of land and the remnant bush and animals that use it. If I were to never again see Koalas or to lose a plant species from my block it would be disastrous to me - so it is reasonable to argue that I have locally significant species on my block. This is a concept used in a similar way by Trust for Nature too. They compile lists of species for every block of land they covenant which include references to species which are EPBC-listed, FFG-listed, rare in Victoria using DEPI's VROTS list, and then also 'Locally Significant' species that refers to how rare it is locally.

So, the concept of rare applies to Victoria, my block of land, and really any other area that has significant meaning. Every Council area in Victoria should have a list of its locally rare and endangered species. The locally, state-wide, nationally and planetarily endangered Acacia rostriformis (Bacchus Marsh Varnish Wattle) could become extinct in our Council area if the only plants known here (at Daly Reserve in Gisborne) were to be lost to the Council's proposed development in the Reserve. Every town area (like Riddells Creek) should also have a list. Perhaps it should be applied to the Macedon Range massif too? It is obvious that if we were to lose Koalas from Riddells Creek that it would be a devastating loss, and the same applies to all locally rare and endangered species in Riddells Creek.

The Concept of 'Extinct in the Wild'
There is one other concept to consider here too, the concept of 'Extinct in the Wild'. Many developers and their consultants will argue that it is OK to get rid of rare plants in one area because they can collect seed and plant them elsewhere. This may seem a reasonable compromise but it isn't. What does it really mean?

The IUCN Red List uses the continuum for assessing species:


Similar to what we discussed earlier, this continuum is equally applicable to all levels, down to local significance. Put simply, the practice of removing a remnant population and replacing it with a plantation puts the species into the EW category (EW means extinct in the wild but surviving under cultivation or in a zoo - NB. EW is listed on the continuum as one step worse than critically endangered). No matter how it is argued, anything that is removed or tansplanted/cultivated and planted elsewhere is no longer a remnant population. Every time remnant vegetation is removed, it results in local extinctions (at the level of the area removed). These wild populations can never be replaced by cultivation, revegetation, etc - they can only turned into non-wild populations, which have significantly lower importance from an ecological/biodiversity perspective.

The Vagaries of Locally vs Globally Endangered

Some species have a large territory which means they are inevitably in low numbers in the Riddells Creek area (eg. Powerful Owl, Koala), and for some species there is so little appropriate habitat left that they are on the brink of being forced out of town (eg. Platypus, Geranium sp. 1, Purple Donkey-orchid and many other grassland species).

There are a few species where the total known local population is less than 10 individuals. Some of these are not endangered in Victoria but on the brink of being lost in Riddells Creek (and the Macedon Range). One of these species is Olearia glandulosa (Swamp Diasy-bush). At 2-3m tall it is a hard plant to miss, yet only one individual is surviving in Riddells Creek. One plant was found in 1984 in formal surveys conducted after the Ash Wednesday bushfires. We think the same plant might be surviving today. No other individuals are known in Macedon Range or across the Shire, making it arguably the most endangered species in Riddells Creek, the Macedon Range and the Shire.

In a global context, possibly the most endangered species we have in our area are Geranium sp. 1 and the Hairy-leaf Triggerplant. It is a curiosity of globally rare species that in the very few places where they survive, they are often locally common (this fact was noted in Darwin's 'The Origin of Species'); eg. the Hairy-leaf Triggerplant can seen in good numbers (hundreds) in a couple of places in Riddells Creek, but this plant is not found anywhere else in the world (in fact it is the only species endemic to the Macedon Ranges area). It is a similar story with Geranium sp. 1 - ie. over 90% of the known world population occurs in the Riddells Creek area so it doesn't get close to the Swamp Daisy-bush in terms being locally endangered - but of course from global standpoint it is far more significant.


The list for Riddells Creek is a dynamic one - all of the links in this article will update as the list changes. If you see something missing or think that a species shouldn't be on the list, please let us know at Riddells Creek Landcare.

If you would like further advice or information on a particular species, feel free to contact us.