Saturday, 14 December 2013

Threatened species encountered by the Wednesday Wallkers

In a recent article I compiled for the ANPS (ACT Branch) Journal I commented that I
was part way through a process of compiling a list of threatened plant species; and
would create a blogpost on the topic when I had finished.

This is that blogpost, although I am unsure that such topics are ever truly 'finished' in the sense there is always more to investigate.  However this is a line ruled in the sand for the time being.

I stress that although this post uses data collected by members of the ANPS it is solely my blog and the views in it are mine and mine alone.   Thus if some organisation gets a serve it is because I reckon they sorely need/deserve it, and not a statement of policy by anyone else!

As I commented in the Journal article trying to compile this list turned out to be rather tricky as there seems to be no overall coordination between levels of Government.  I have compiled a table mainly using:

This gave me a total list of 1833 species of which 1287 (137 Critically endangered; 550 Endangered and 620 Vulnerable) came from the EPBC Act covering the whole of Australia and 382 (47 Critically endangered and 335 Endagered)came from the NSW Act.  Of course, many of these occur in habitats (eg Tropical Ranforest and Coastal habitats ) which do not occur in the ACT or the other areas covered by the WWs.

There were 48 cases where a species was given different ratings between sources.  In most cases this was a difference between a rating of Endangered in source 'a' and Vulnerable in source 'b' which is quite understandable where source b covers a wider area than source a.  (Gentiana bredboensis seems unique in that it is rated as ‘3’ (Vulnerable) in EPBC but 1 (Critically Endangered) in the NSW Schedules.  This suggests something named after Bredbo is commoner elsewhere but the only references I can find say it is only found in a paddock near Bredbo!  I suggest that in this case at least the NSW Government has got it right!)

Apart from such confusion the chaotic way in which the species names are structured does not make life simple for bears of little brain trying to compile a simple list of threatened species.  By way of example:
  • In the EPBC Act it is relatively common to include synonyms (eg "Caladenia formosa = Arachnorchis formosa") presumably reflecting State level tantrums over interpretation of DNA sequencing, but this does not occur in other, often State specific, sources.
  • The NSW Schedules always name the authority and sometimes include a geographic reference and/or vernacular name as well as in "Persoonia pauciflora P.H. Weston North Rothbury Persoonia".
Whatever.  I shrugged my shoulders and pressed on to see what can be done to kick the resulting chaos into a simple list of genus/species/subspecies format.  

Having done that, I then ran a standard "match" query between the list of threatened species and my overall list of species.  This generated a list of 20 Threatened species which we have encountered.  In the following image I have marked with bold red the 5 species added to those published in the Journal, by including the 'Vulnerable category from the EPBC.

The map below shows WW sites in which at least one of those species has been recorded.
I have been exchanging emails with Roger Farrow, another member of ANPS, about aspects of this project, relating to species listed as threatened, and possible in the ANPS (ACT Branch) 'catchment' which we haven't yet seen. The full outcome of the work this work will be published elsewhere.

The final subset of species are those which ANPS has seen and which are not identified anywhere as threatened but are in fact threatened.  Looking at the image above there are a surprising absence of icons from the Brindabellas and Southern Tallaganda.  As always, there is more work available to be done if someone has the time, energy and knowledge to undertake it.

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