The vertebrate fauna of Manobalai Nature Reserve and adjacent Crown Lands
Manobalai Nature Reserve comprises 3800 hectares of a dissected sandstone plateau within the catchment of the Goulburn River. It is bordered to the south and east by three parcels of Crown Land, which together encompass 7800 hectares of native vegetation. These 'adjacent Crown Lands' have been proposed as additions to the nature reserve, and in conjunction with the reserve form the focus of this report (the study area). The area is characterised by sandstone peaks and mesas, with benches and slopes dropping to deep narrow gorges. Broader alluvial valleys feature in the southern area of the nature reserve and also the southern portion of Crown Land. The study area lies at the convergence of a number of environmental and climatic influences, as illustrated by the diversity and pattern of vegetation communities. These range from grassy alluvial woodlands, dry woodlands and forests on sandstone slopes and ridges, and rocky heath to taller spotted gum-ironbark forests. The diverse range of environments provides a rich assemblage of habitats for fauna.
This report compiles and reviews Atlas of NSW Wildlife data on terrestrial vertebrate fauna and documents the extensive systematic surveys undertaken by the Department of Environment and Conservation in 1997 and during the spring, summer and autumn of 2004-05. A total of 88 systematic survey sites have sampled the birds, frogs, bats, reptiles and arboreal mammals. Terrestrial mammals have been sampled opportunistically, while fish have not been included in this study. The 2004-05 surveys were undertaken to provide a more accurate inventory of fauna across the range of habitats present and enable a more reliable assessment of importance of the reserve and Crown Lands to the protection of threatened species at a local, regional and state level. The report finds that:
Two-hundred and fourteen (214) species of native vertebrate fauna inhabit the study area, including 166 in the nature reserve and 201 in the Crown Lands. These species include 120 species of diurnal birds, eight nocturnal birds, five arboreal mammals, 16 bats, 11 ground mammals, 30 reptiles and 14 frogs.
- The composition of fauna is strongly influenced by the central western slope environments, including species such as grey-crowned babbler, black-chinned honeyeater, inland broad-nosed bat and south-eastern Morethia skink. It also includes species typical of drier Sydney sandstone environments such as white-eared honeyeater, rockwarbler, eastern freetail-bat (Mormopterus species 2) and whites rock-skink, and species more typical of the north coast including robust velvet gecko, eastern ranges rock-skink and two-clawed worm-skink. A number of animals found lie near the limit of their known range and ecological tolerance.
- Manobalai Nature Reserve supports habitat for at least 14 species listed as threatened in the Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995), while the southern Crown Land supports at least 20. Three of these threatened species are widespread across the study area, including the powerful owl, glossy black cockatoo and large-eared pied bat.
- Fourteen threatened species have the greatest area of their preferred habitat located in the southern Crown Land, including black-chinned honeyeater, grey-crowned babbler, speckled warbler, turquoise parrot, brown treecreeper, painted honeyeater, hooded robin, diamond firetail, gang-gang cockatoo, barking owl, squirrel glider, greater long-eared bat, koala and eastern cave bat.
- The spotted gum - ironbark forests provide quality habitat for the regent honeyeater and swift parrot, though these birds have not been recorded in the park to date. Targeted surveys for these species are recommended.
- Three threatened species appear rare within the study area, the yellow-bellied sheathtail-bat, east-coast freetail-bat and eastern bent-wing bat while a further three species are considered likely to persist but have not been recently confirmed, including masked owl, spotted-tailed quoll and brush-tailed rock-wallaby.
- Feral animals including rabbits, foxes and wild dogs are present, with highest densities recorded near the boundaries of the study area. Foxes pose the greatest threat to native wildlife through predation. Initiatives that prevent expansion of these animals are warranted.
The report highlights that Manobalai Nature Reserve and the adjacent Crown Lands support different assemblages of fauna, driven by the habitats contained therein. The southern portion of Crown Land contains habitats of particular conservation significance in the Hunter region given the extent of clearing and the fact that such habitats are currently poorly protected in the reserve system.
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Page last updated: 16 May 2011