The Vertebrate Fauna of North Eastern Wollemi National Park

Overview

North-eastern Wollemi National Park (the study area) comprises 128 000 hectares of land within the catchment of the Hunter River, representing just under 30 per cent of Wollemi National Park. The area encompasses a section of the southern escarpment of the Hunter Valley, characterised by alluvial flats,steep talus slopes and escarpments with frequent outcropping of sandstone. The Great Dividing Range in the vicinity of the Hunter catchment is of very low relief, facilitating interchange between coastal and western environments. Vegetation ranges from dry woodlands characteristic of the central western slopes in the north, sclerophyllous forests and woodlands typical of hinterland sandstone environments in the south and east, to moist gully systems with north coast botanical influences in the north-east. This diverse rangeof 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 during 1997 and during the spring, summer and autumn of 2004-05. A total of 230 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 the importance of the reserve to the protection of threatened species at a local, regional and state level. The report finds that:

  • Two-hundred and seventy-eight (278) species of native terrestrial vertebrate fauna are known to inhabitthe study area. This is made up of 152 diurnal bird species, nine species of nocturnal birds, ten arboreal mammal species, 22 bats, 14 ground mammals, 49 reptiles and 21 frog species respectively.
  • The composition and distribution of fauna species is strongly affected by the convergence of environments and influences within the park. It includes: species endemic to the Sydney Basin such as rockwarbler and red-crowned toadlet; species typical of coastal hinterland environments, such as the Lewin's honeyeater and bell miner; species tied to drier habitats like those found in central western NSW, including the painted burrowing frog, tree-crevice skink and inland broad-nosed bat; and species more common on the north coast including red-eyed green tree frog and robust velvet gecko. A number of animals lie towards the limit of their known range and ecological tolerance within the park.
  • North-eastern Wollemi National Park supports habitat for at least 33 fauna species listed as threatened on the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995). Five of these are widespread and were detected in relatively high numbers: the glossy black-cockatoo, gang-gang cockatoo, yellow-bellied glider, large-eared pied bat and eastern bent-wing bat. Others are also widespread but more patchily distributed, including the red-crowned toadlet, giant burrowing frog, powerful owl, masked owl, brush-tailed rock-wallaby, koala, grey-headed flying-fox, eastern false pipistrelle, greater broad-nosed bat and eastern cave bat. Three species are rare due to restricted habitat availability: Rosenberg's goanna, sooty owl and east-coast freetail-bat; while the eastern pygmy possum and spotted-tailed quoll were each recorded on very few occasions, probably due to their highly cryptic nature.
  • A suite of threatened species are restricted to the fertile, dry grassy box woodlands on the northern escarpment slopes and valleys, rarely penetrating far into the reserve, including the black-chinned honeyeater, grey-crowned babbler, diamond firetail, speckled warbler, brown treecreeper, regent honeyeater, hooded robin, barking owl, squirrel glider and greater long-eared bat. These environments, located either side of the reserve boundary, also provide foraging habitat for the Swift parrot and painted honeyeater, though these birds have not been recorded within the study area to date.
  • Feral animals including rabbits, foxes and wild dogs are present, with highest densities recorded near the boundaries of the reserve. Foxes and wild dogs pose threats to native wildlife through predation.

The report highlights vegetation types found in the vicinity of the northern perimeter of the reserve as being of particular conservation interest, due to the number of threatened species that are concentrated within these environments. This information has important implications for fire management, land acquisition and feral animal and weed control. The report also recognises that management of fauna in the reserve is limited by poor information on the patterns in fire intensity, accuracy of vegetation mapping and the delineation of fauna habitats for threatened species.


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Page last updated: 17 March 2014