The Vertebrate Fauna of South-eastern Wollemi National Park

Overview

South-eastern Wollemi National Park (NP) comprises approximately 80 000 hectares of land within the catchment of the Colo River, north-west of Sydney. This report compiles Atlas of NSW Wildlife data on the terrestrial vertebrate fauna of this area and documents the extensive systematic surveys undertaken by the Department of Environment and Climate Change in 1997-98 and 2007-08. A total of 164 systematic survey sites have sampled birds, frogs, reptiles and mammals. This is the first time that a thorough inventory of all vertebrate fauna within south-eastern Wollemi NP has been compiled, and is the third of four stages of survey and review of fauna across the whole of Wollemi NP. Some key findings are summarised below.

  • 266 native terrestrial vertebrate fauna species inhabit south-eastern Wollemi NP, including 25 frogs, 44 reptiles, 150 birds and 47 species of mammal. In addition, the Dingo, ten introduced mammals and one introduced bird species have been detected.
  • The 2007-08 surveys confirmed the presence of twenty-three threatened fauna species, of which ten are considered to be a high priority for management. These are the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, Broad-headed Snake, Brown Treecreeper, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Spotted-tailed Quoll, Turquoise Parrot, Koala, East-coast Freetail-bat, Large-footed Myotis and Littlejohn’s Tree Frog. Eight additional threatened species have previously been recorded, of which one, the Booroolong Frog, is presumed to be locally extinct and two, the Stuttering Frog and Regent Honeyeater, have not been recorded for some time, raising doubts about their persistence in the study area.
  • Sandstone sclerophyll forests and woodlands dominate much of the study area, reflected in the abundance of typical sandstone species such as Dark-flecked Garden Sunskink, Spotted Pardalote, White-throated Treecreeper, Sugar Glider and Little Forest Bat. Most of the fauna species occurring in these habitats are well represented in the regional reserve system. The deep gorges that incise the sandstone plateau support tall forests and in the south near Kurrajong there are well developed stands of coastal and hinterland warm temperate rainforest. A number of species such as the Three-toed Skink are restricted to these sheltered environments, while the rainforests provide habitat for several threatened species including Stuttering Frog, Sooty Owl, Spotted-tailed Quoll and Powerful Owl. The incised sandstone plateau supports a large number of Koalas and together with neighbouring parks conserves one of the largest expanses of protected habitat for this species in the northern half of the Sydney Basin. Hanging Swamps occur in some of the narrow gully heads and cliff edges in the south of the park, supporting a distinct assemblage of birds and habitat for several threatened frog species including Littlejohn’s Tree Frog.
  • The north-eastern edge of the study area includes part of the Mellong Plateau, a gently undulating landscape dominated by sandy valleys that support low open woodlands which are occasionally grassy and interspersed with swampy areas. Several threatened species occur in this landscape, including Grey-crowned Babbler, Turquoise Parrot, Brown Treecreeper, Squirrel Glider and Broad-headed Snake. Pest species are also abundant on the Mellong Plateau, with Deer, Pig, Goat and Cattle together likely to be having a significant impact on threatened fauna and therefore a high priority for monitoring and control. Frequent fire is another issue on the Mellong Plateau that requires careful management.
  • The northern boundary of the study area adjoins the Putty Valley, an area where wide alluvial valleys support tall grassy forests and Narrabeen Sandstone hills are dominated by Ironbarks and Grey Gums. These environments in the vicinity of Long Weeney, Putty and Wollemi Creeks provide habitat for several declining woodland species as well as East-coast Freetail-bat and Greater Broad-nosed Bat. Several threatening processes also operate within these environments including Cattle grazing, possibly disturbance by Feral Pigs, clearing and loss of hollow bearing trees. Management of these habitats will confer a proportionately high return for conservation of biodiversity in the park.
  • The Colo River was accessed by raft for the surveys, leading to the discovering of water dependant species like Platypus and Water-rat. Several animals associated with rocky escarpments and overhangs were recorded, including roosts of Eastern Cave Bat and Eastern Bentwing-bat and two locations of Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby. The Colo River escarpments, and escarpments and boulder slopes along tributary creek lines, provide a regionally significant refuge for the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby.
  • The systematic fauna surveys have revealed the preferred habitat of many fauna species, however some species remain poorly understood. Further surveys are recommended for Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and Stuttering Frog to determine the current status of, and threats to, these species. The results of such surveys would directly lead to active site management.

This project has identified numerous threatened species, highlighted key areas for threat abatement, set priorities for future land acquisition, suggested focus areas for community awareness and involvement, and provided key recommendations for further targeted survey and monitoring. The data collected for this project will later be used to model habitat for threatened species across the northern Sydney region.


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Page last updated: 17 March 2014