Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) - 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 shrub Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) as an ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act, and as a consequence, omit reference to Bertya sp. A Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n., 2/8/73) from Part 1 of 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. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) (family Euphorbiaceae) is a shrub that has been described by M. Fatemi (in litt.), based on research by Fatemi et al. (2007), as follows: “Shrub to 3 m high. Stems densely hairy. Hairs stellate, rusty brown. Leaves opposite and decussate; leaf base decurrent; leaves lanceolate, leaf lamina flat or slightly recurved; 50-75 mm long 9-17 mm wide. Secondary veins prominent. Leaf apex plane, acute, muticous; leaf apical gland absent. Basal leaf glands present, opposite, stipitate, stipes 0.4-1 mm long, at the base of the lamina. Inflorescence axillary, a single flower. Male flower viscid, sessile, with hairy bracts. Female flowers not viscid and sessile; bracts hairy; ovary densely hairy; Style branched, green, style branches 5mm long, abaxially glabrous. Fruit globose, densely hairy, 3-seeded, 12 mm long, 10 mm wide.”

 

2. Until recently, Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) was included in the more broadly defined Bertya sp. A (sensu James & Harden 1990) which has previously been listed on Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 under the phrase name of “Bertya sp. A Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n., 2/8/73)” and was included in the approved recovery plan for that taxon (NSW NPWS 2002). Recent taxonomic research by Fatemi et al. (2007) has shown that Bertya sp. A includes two distinct species; one occurring to the west of the Great Dividing Range and another restricted to the east. Populations from western New South Wales (e.g. Cobar, Coolabah and Narrabri) are assigned by Fatemi to Bertya opponens, a species previously thought to be endemic to Queensland. The populations occurring east of the Great Dividing Range are disjunct from those of B. opponens and recognised as Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4), a new undescribed species (Fatemi et al. 2007). This new taxon is distinguished from Bertya opponens by the presence of stipitate glands near the base of the leaves and the mostly golden (rather than white) colour of the indumentum (Fatemi et al. 2007).

 

3. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) is endemic to north-eastern New South Wales where it occurs from the Gibraltar Range, east of Glen Innes, to the Macleay Gorges, south-east of Armidale. Seven populations are currently known although it is possible that further populations may occur as the habitat is typically very steep and relatively inaccessible.

 

4. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) grows on steep, rocky slopes in shallow soil. The parent material is either granitic (at least three populations) or metasedimetary (most of the southern-most populations). It typically occurs within heath or low shrubland vegetation surrounded by stunted eucalypts. Altitudes range from 300-1000 m above sea level. Like other species in the genus, Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) standing plants are apparently killed by fire and germination often occurs from a soil seedbank shortly afterwards. Little is known about the reproductive biology of Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) although Austen (1999) suggests that the plants are wind-pollinated and relatively long-lived.

 

5. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) has a highly restricted geographic distribution. Its area of occupancy is estimated to be approximately 28 km2, based on the number of occupied 2 x 2 km grid squares, the spatial scale of assessment recommended by the IUCN (2008). These occurrences are scattered over a wide range, however, with an estimated extent of occurrence of approximately 6500 km2 (Copeland 2008).

 

6. The total known population of Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) has been estimated to include approximately 400-480 mature individuals (Copeland 2008). The largest population appears to be in Kangaroo River State Forest which is thought to contain approximately 500 plants, about half of which are estimated to be mature adults (Austen 1999).

 

7. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) is declining in at least one known locality due to an aging, senescent population and an apparent lack of recruitment. Inappropriate fire regimes, in which intervals between successive fires are either too long to avoid senescence of standing plants and seed banks or too short to permit seedbank accumulation, are likely to be the most significant threat to the species (Austen 1999). ‘High frequency fire resulting in disruption of life cycle processes in plants and animals and loss of vegetation structure and composition’ is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

 

8. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) is not eligible to be listed as a Critically Endangered species.

 

9. Bertya sp. (Clouds Creek, M. Fatemi 4) is eligible to be listed as an Endangered species as, in the opinion of the Scientific Committee, it is facing a very high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the near future as determined in accordance with the following criteria as prescribed by the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2002:

 

Clause 15

The geographic distribution of the species is estimated or inferred to be:

(b) highly restricted,

and

(d) a projected or continuing decline is observed, estimated or inferred in:

(i) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon.

Clause 16

The estimated total number of mature individuals of the species is:

(b) low,

and

(d) a projected or continuing decline is observed, estimated or inferred in:

(i) an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon.

Dr Richard Major

Chairperson

Scientific Committee

Proposed Gazettal date: 11/12/09

Exhibition period: 11/12/09 – 29/01/10

 

References:

 

Austen JA (1999) ‘The management of Bertya opponens – a vulnerable shrub: A precursor to the Draft Recovery Plan for the vulnerable shrub Bertya opponens.’ Unpublished B.Nat.Res thesis available from the University of New England, Armidale.

 

Copeland LM (2008) ‘Conservation and taxonomic status of Bertya sp.A Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n., 2/8/73 – Euphorbiaceae) in NSW.’ Report to the NSW Scientific Committee, Sydney.

 

Fatemi M, Gross CL, Bruhl JJ (2007) The first phenetic analysis of species limits in Bertya (Euphorbiaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 20, 448-463.

 

IUCN (2008) ‘Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 7.0.’ (Standards and Petitions Working Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Biodiversity Assessments Sub-committee: Switzerland). (http://intranet.iucn.org/webfiles/doc/SSC/RedList/RedListGuidelines.pdf).

 

James TA, Harden GJ (1990) Euphorbiaceae. In ‘Flora of New South Wales. Vol. 1’. (Ed. GJ Harden) pp. 389-430 (University of New South Wales Press: Sydney)

 

NSW NPWS (2002) Approved Recovery Plan for Bertya sp. Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n., 2/8/73). NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville NSW.

Page last updated: 28 February 2011