The vertebrate fauna of Dharawal State Conservation Area, Dharawal Nature Reserve and adjacent lands


This document details the terrestrial vertebrate fauna of Dharawal SCA and NR, which encompass approximately 6700 hectares of land on the Woronora Plateau 45 kilometres south of Sydney. The systematic and targeted surveys have provided a comprehensive species inventory, identified fauna conservation and management priorities, and assessed the relative conservation value of lands being considered for addition to the reserve system. A total of 140 systematic and targeted survey sites have sampled the birds, frogs, reptiles, bats, arboreal and terrestrial mammals. Dharawal SCA and NR are species-rich relative to their size, largely because of the sharp gradient of environments that occur from the Illawarra Escarpment across to the edge of the Cumberland Plain, including part of the largest expanse of Upland Swamp in the southern Sydney Basin. Some key findings of the surveys are summarised below.

  • 222 native fauna species are known to inhabit Dharawal SCA and NR including 23 frogs, 39 reptiles, 128 birds and 32 mammals. An extra two native species have been recorded in the surveyed adjacent lands.
  • The Upland Swamps have exceptional importance for the conservation of threatened, regionally significant and locally significant species. They provide habitat for at least ten species listed as threatened on the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and a further six regionally significant species. The Upland Swamps are the highest priority for managing threatening processes and for land acquisition in the area.
  • The surveys failed to detect five threatened species that have previously been recorded in Dharawal SCA and NR, including the ground parrot, eastern bristlebird, long-nosed potoroo, stuttering frog and green and golden bell frog. These are of the highest conservation priority, but will be considered to be locally extinct until further surveys prove otherwise.
  • The surveys greatly increased the understanding of vertebrate fauna in the study area and detected fourteen species that had not previously been recorded. A total of seventeen species listed in the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 are now known to occur, as well as five species considered to have moderate to high regional conservation significance. Of these, Dharawal SCA and NR are considered critical to the regional conservation of Littlejohn's tree frog, beautiful firetail, southern emu-wren, tawny-crowned honeyeater, Rosenberg's goanna, giant burrowing frog, red-crowned toadlet and eastern pygmy-possum. Another exciting discovery was finding the eastern three-lined skink on Maddens Plains, which constitutes a range extension for the species.
  • The habitats present across Dharawal SCA and NR are characterised by different groups of fauna species. The Upland Swamps support the most distinct assemblage of fauna, including, for example, Littlejohn's tree frog and eastern pygmy-possum. The Exposed Sandstone Woodlands that cover most of the reserves support fauna typical of coastal sandstone plateaux across the Sydney Basin. The woodlands and forests that occur in the far north-west of the reserves are influenced by the richer soils of the Cumberland Plain and play an important role as part of a regional habitat corridor, while providing habitat for species such as the koala and greater broad-nosed bat.
  • Eleven introduced species (seven mammals and four birds) have been confirmed to occur. Several threatening processes act in the study area, the most significant being predation by the fox in Upland Swamps, environmental degradation caused by feral deer, and infection of frogs with Chytrid fungus. Alteration to habitat following subsidence due to longwall mining is a highly significant potential threat.

Areas of Upland Swamp are the highest priority for addition to Dharawal SCA and NR, including the Crown lands north of the NR, the Sydney Catchment Authority lands to the south of the NR, and the Crown Reserve north of Bulli-Appin road, listed in order of priority. Future proposals for extension should also consider inclusion of Western Gully Forest to the north and west of Dharawal SCA.

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Page last updated: 17 March 2014