Bardick - endangered species listing
NSW Scientific Committee - final determination
The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Bardick Echiopsis curta (Schlegel 1837) as an ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act, and as a consequence, to omit reference to the Bardick, Echiopsis curta (Schlegel, 1837) from Schedule 2 (Vulnerable species) of the Act. Listing of endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.
The Scientific Committee has found that:
1. The Bardick, Echiopsis curta is a small snake, reaching a maximum body length of approximately 60cm (Wilson and Knowles 1988, Swan 1990, Cogger 2000). They are unusually heavy-bodied for a small elapid, having a large head distinct from the neck, a stout body and a short tail (Shine 1982). They vary in colour from grey-brown, olive-brown, reddish-brown to a rich brown above, and pale grey-brown below (Swan 1990, Cogger 2000). The head usually has some scattered pale flecks, the throat and anterior ventrals are richly specked with white and brown, and the lips are spotted with white (Swan 1990, Cogger 2000).
2. The Bardick is widely distributed from the coast and interior of south-western Western Australia, through southern Australia to western Victoria and south-western New South Wales (Cogger 2000). There is broad agreement that the population found east of the Flinders Ranges, including south-eastern South Australia, north-western Victoria and south-western NSW, is disjunct from populations to the west (Wilson and Knowles 1988, Cogger 2000).
3. South-western NSW is the extreme eastern edge of the species' range with the Bardick known in NSW from two records; an Australian Museum specimen collected in 1974 from the 'Balranald district'; and a 1983 record from 74km west of Balranald, near Bidura Station (Wilson and Knowles 1988; G. Swan pers. comm.). Both records occurred within 100km of each other indicating that the species' distribution in NSW may be restricted but apparently suitable habitat extends further north and east into south-western and central-western NSW (Wilson and Knowles 1988, Cogger 2000).
4. The Bardick is terrestrial and is known to inhabit hummock grasslands, mallee areas and tall shrublands on sandy or loamy soils, usually in association with run-off slopes and drainage from local sites (Wilson and Knowles 1988, Cogger 2000). A variety of shelter sites are used, including under fallen timber and rocks, dense matted vegetation, among leaf-litter, and beneath the overhanging foliage of shrubs, grass tussocks or hummocks, including under spinifex (Triodia) clumps (Wilson and Knowles 1988, Swan 1990, Cogger et al. 1993). In Victoria, the Bardick is found in mallee heath and broombush mallee (Robertson et al. 1989), usually with scattered Triodia clumps (Nick Clemann, pers. comm.). These communities tend to occur on deep aeolian sands (Menkhorst and Bennett 1990). 'Heathy mallee' is not widespread in NSW (James Val, pers. comm.), and sandplain/dunefield areas with mallee and Triodia understorey are likely to be the principal habitat for the species in this State.
5. The paucity of records makes it difficult to estimate the population size for this species in NSW. A large number of extensive biodiversity surveys have been conducted within south-western NSW in recent years (Mazzer et al. 1998, Val et al. 2001), but no Bardick sightings have been recorded in this State for at least 14 years. Based on the information available, the population size is considered extremely small in NSW.
6. Direct loss of habitat by clearing is the most immediate and readily identifiable threat to the conservation of the Bardick in NSW (Sadlier and Pressey 1994). Habitat loss and modification through fire and the alteration of fire frequency regimes is also implicated in the decline of reptile species dependent on Triodia for shelter (Pianka 1969, cited in Cogger 1984, Cogger 1989, Sadlier and Pressey 1994). Areas of 'pristine' mallee appear to be necessary for this species (Mark Hutchinson, pers. comm.). The impact of feral predators, such as foxes, is regarded as a principal threatening process for this species in Victoria (Nick Clemann, pers. comm.), and is considered likely on the basis of feeding habits and activity times of this species (Ayers et al. 1996). Bardicks are probably ambush predators (Wilson and Knowles 1988) and as such display a variety of life history characteristics (low rates of feeding, growth and reproduction) which render them particularly vulnerable to the above threatening processes in the long term.
7. In view of the above points the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Bardick, Echiopsis curta (Schlegel 1837) is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.
Associate Professor Paul Adam
Proposed Gazettal date: 14/11/03
Exhibition period: 14/11/03 - 16/01/04
Ayers D., Nask S. and Baggett K. (1996) Threatened species of western New South Wales. NSW NPWS, Hurstville.
Cogger H. G. (1984) Reptiles in the Austrlian arid zone. In Arid Australia (Ed. H. G. Cogger and E. E. Cameron). pp. 235-252. Australian Museum, Sydney.
Cogger H. G. (1989) Herpetofauna. In Mediterranean landscapes in Australia - mallee ecosystems and their management (Ed. J. C. Noble and R. A. Bradstock) pp. 250-265. CSIRO Publications, Melbourne.
Cogger H. G. (2000) Reptiles and amphibians of Australia. 6th Edn. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Cogger H. G., Cameron E. E., Sadlier R. A. and Eggler P. (1993) The action plan for Australian reptiles. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.
Mazzer T., Ellis M., Smith J., Ayers D., Cooper M., Wallace G. and Langdon A. (1998) Fauna of Western New South Wales: The Southern Mallee Region. NSW NPWS, Hurstville.
Menkhorst P. W. and Bennett A. F. (1990) Vertebrate fauna of mallee vegetation in Southern Australia. In The mallee lands: a conservation perspective (Ed. J. C. Noble, P. J. Joss and G. K. Jones) pp. 39-53. Proceedings of the National Mallee Conference, Adelaide, April 1989. CSIRO Publications, East Melbourne.
Pianka E. R. (1969) Habitat specificity, speciation and species density in Australian desert lizards. Ecology. 50, 498-502.
Robertson P., Bennett A. F., Lumsden L. F., Silveira C. E., Johnson P. G., Yen A. L., Milledge G. A., Lillywhite P. K. and Pribble H. J. (1989) Fauna of the mallee study area north-western Victoria. Technical report series no. 87. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Heidelberg.
Sadlier R. A. and Pressey R. L. (1994) Reptiles and amphibians of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales. Biological Conservation 69, 41-54.
Shine R. (1982) Ecology of the Australian elapid snake Echiopsis curta. Journal of Herpetology 16, 388-393.
Swan G. (1990) A field guide to the snakes and lizards of New South Wales. Three Sisters, Sydney.
Val J., Foster E. and LeBreton M. (2001) Biodiversity Survey of the Lower Murray Darling. Unpublished Report, NSW Department of Land Water Conservation, Buronga.
Wilson S. K. and Knowles D. G. (1988) Australia's reptiles: a photographic reference to the terrestrial reptiles of Australia. Collins, Sydney.
About the NSW Scientific Committee
Page last updated: 28 February 2011