Lasiopetalum behrii - critically 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 Lasiopetalum behrii F.Muell. as a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1A of the Act, and as a consequence, to omit reference to Lasiopetalum behrii F.Muell. from Part 1 of Schedule 1 (Endangered species) of the Act. Listing of Critically Endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

 

The Scientific Committee has found that:

 

1. Lasiopetalum behrii F.Muell (Pink Velvet Bush) (family Sterculiaceae) is described by Harden and Murray (2000) as follows: ‘Shrub to 1.5 m high. Leaves narrow-oblong to narrow-elliptic, or rarely ovate, 4–9 cm long, 0.5–3 cm wide, ± glabrous above and rusty tomentose below, with main vein and secondary veins visible; margins ± recurved. Petiole 3–10 mm long. Cymes mostly 2–8-flowered; bracteoles 3, stellate-hairy, 2–3 mm long; calyx lobes 5–8 mm long, the inner surface pink and glabrous or with a few scattered hairs, the outer surface white and densely stellate-hairy; petals 1–1.5 mm long, red-brown; anthers c. 2 mm long, red-brown; style glabrous. Capsule 4–8 mm diam., densely hairy.’

 

2. Lasiopetalum behrii was first described by F.J.H. von Mueller (1855) and is distinguishable from other Lasiopetalum species in NSW by the calyx lobes which are glabrous on the inner surface, whitish tomentose on the outer surface and 3-8 mm long. The similar species, L. parviflorum, has a more coastal distribution and smaller calyx lobes than L. behrii (Harden & Murray 2000).

 

3. Lasiopetalum behrii is known from a single locality on private property, in the Pooncarie district, in the far south-western plains of NSW (Harden & Murray 2000). It is possible that L. behrii has never been particularly widespread within NSW, and its present occurrence represents the eastern-most limit of the species, with the main known distribution occurring in north west Victoria and south east South Australia, where it is frequent to very common (Porteners & Robertson 2003).

 

4. Lasiopetalum behrii grows in mallee and red dune / swale country (Harden & Murray 2000). The sole NSW specimen was found growing in private property on a red swale at the edge of a sand plain (NSW Herbarium Records).

 

5. Lasiopetalum behrii flowers from late winter to spring (Harden & Murray 2000). Based on similar species, it is estimated that L. behrii reaches reproductive maturity at around 2-5 years, with longevity of 20-50 years (T. Auld pers. comm. July 2009). It is not known whether some disturbance of sites stimulates or inhibits recruitment, although the species has been recorded colonising a roadside site in South Australia (Porteners & Robertson 2003).

 

6. The size of the NSW population of L. behrii is difficult to determine as there is only one known record of this species in the state. It is therefore likely that the number of mature individuals is fewer than 50 and possibly as low as one.

 

7. Although current information is limited, it is believed that L. behrii has a very highly restricted distribution in NSW. The total extent of occurrence and area of occupancy are estimated to be less than 4 km2, as the entire distribution of the species in NSW falls within a single 2 x 2 km grid cell; the scale of assessment recommended by IUCN (2008).

 

8. Clearing of suitable habitat for agriculture is a threat to L. behrii. It is thought that widespread agricultural development of the mallee environments of NSW has reduced population size (Clements et al. 2000) and also resulted in the habitat of this species now being severely fragmented (as defined by the IUCN 2008). ‘Clearing of native vegetation’ is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

 

9. Other threats to L. behrii include grazing, lack of seedling recruitment and competition with exotic plants. L. behrii may also be threatened by mineral sands exploration and mining, as soil disturbances may remove potential populations present in the form of soil-stored seed. Within NSW, this species is also susceptible to stochastic events due to its extremely small population size and limited distribution.

 

10. Lasiopetalum behrii F.Muell. is eligible to be listed as a Critically Endangered species as, in the opinion of the Scientific Committee, it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the immediate 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:

(a)

very highly restricted,

and:

(d)

a projected or continuing decline is observed, estimated or inferred in either:

 

 

(i)

an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon, or

 

 

(ii)

geographic distribution, habitat quality or diversity, or genetic diversity, and

 

(e)

the following two conditions apply:

 

 

(i)

the population or habitat is observed or inferred to be severely fragmented;

 

 

(ii)

all or nearly all mature individuals are observed or inferred to occur within a small number of populations or locations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clause 16

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

(a)

very low,

and:

(d)

a projected or continuing decline is observed, estimated or inferred in either:

 

 

(i)

an index of abundance appropriate to the taxon, or

 

 

(ii)

geographic distribution, habitat quality or diversity, or genetic diversity.

 

(e)

the following two conditions apply:

 

 

(i)

the population or habitat is observed or inferred to be severely fragmented;

 

 

(ii)

all or nearly all mature individuals are observed or inferred to occur within a small number of populations or locations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clause 17

The total number of mature individuals of the species is observed, estimated or inferred to be:

(a)

extremely low.

 

Dr Richard Major

Chairperson

Scientific Committee

 

Proposed Gazettal date: 16/07/10

Exhibition period: 16/07/10 -10/09/10

 

References:

 

Clements A, Rodd T, Moore RJ, Crane AG, Simpson J (2000) Surveys of areas having potentially high botanical diversity near Pooncarie, South Far Western Plains. Cunninghamia 6, 611-643.

 

Harden GJ, Murray L (2000) Sterculiaceae. In ‘Flora of New South Wales. Vol. 1. Revised Edition’ (Ed. GJ Harden) pp 303-314. (New South Wales University Press: Sydney)

 

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).

 

Mueller FJH von (1855) Definitions of rare or hitherto undescribed Australian plants. Transactions of the Philosophical Society of Victoria 1, 36.

 

Porteners M, Robertson G (2003) ‘Threatened Plants in Western New South Wales: Information Review.’ (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville)

Page last updated: 28 February 2011