Natural Temperate Grassland of the South Eastern Highlands - profile

Indicative distribution


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known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Natural Temperate Grassland of the South Eastern Highlands
Conservation status in NSW: Not listed
Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered
Gazetted date: 06 Apr 2016
Profile last updated: 16 Aug 2018

Description

Natural Temperate Grassland is a natural grassland community dominated by a a range of perennial grass species and, in highly intact sites, containing a large range of herbaceous species in many plant families, including daisies, peas, lilies, orchids and plants in many other families, all collectively known as forbs, or "wildflowers" in the case of the more showy species. A number of distinct associations have been described in Armstrong et al. (2013), identified by combinations of the co-occurring grasses and forbs, and each found in particular regions and/or landscape positions.

The community is often treeless, though trees of a range of species may occur in low densities, either as isolated individuals or in clumps. Seasonally wet areas within a site may also contain a range of wetland flora species, including rushes, sedges and a variety of wetland specialist forbs. A limited range of shrub species may occur at some sites, but these too occur in low densities.

Many of the flora species of the community are threatened. The community supports a range of fauna species, some of which are unique to grassland communities, or if not unique, are restricted to sites with grassy ecosystems (i.e. grassy woodland communities). Many of these fauna species, including several birds and reptiles and an invertebrate (Golden Sun Moth Synemon plana), are listed as threatened.

Particular condition criteria must be met for an area of grassland to be considered natural temperate grassland. For information on this refer to the Policy Statement in the 'Natural Temperate Grassland of the South eastern Highlands in Community and Species Profile and Threats database' link. 

Distribution

Natural Temperate Grassland is confined to the Southern Tablelands, a region bounded by the ACT, Yass, Boorowa, the Abercrombie River, Goulburn, the Great Eastern Escarpment, the Victorian border and the eastern boundary of Kosciusko National Park. The community occurs in a number of distinct plant associations (see Armstrong et al., 2013). According to the association present, the community is found in various topographical positions and on a variety of substrates. The altitudinal range of the community is between 500 m and 1200 m asl. The community is found on broad sweeping plains with poor drainage and cold air inversions that promote frosts which inhibit tree growth; on all topographical locations, including upper-slopes, crests and plateaux on basalt landscapes; and in frost hollows in areas otherwise dominated by woodlands or forests. The community may also occur in a landscape mosaic with several woodland communities.  

Habitat and ecology

  • There are eight distinct associations within the community (plant communities r1 to r8). Floristics and information on distribution are described in detail in Armstrong (et al., 2013).
  • r1 (Sub-montane moist tussock grassland of the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is a dense moist tussock grassland dominated by Snow Grass and/or Kangaroo grass in the upper stratum with a variety of forbs. Found in cool, moist, high-altitude sites that rim the Monaro region.
  • r2 (Poa labillardierei – Themeda australis – Juncus sp. wet tussock grassland of footslopes, drainage lines and flats of the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is a tall, dense or mid-dense wet tussock grassland dominated by River Tussock usually with Kangaroo Grass, the sedge Tall Sedge and rushes in the upper stratum and a variety of grasses and forbs in the intertussock spaces. Occurs in damp flats and drainage lines.
  • r3 (Rytidosperma sp. – Themeda australis – Juncus sp. tussock grassland of occasionally wet sites of the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is a dense to mid-dense, low to mid-high tussock grassland dominated by wallaby-grasses and/or Kangaroo Grass, with rushes in the upper stratum and a variety of smaller grasses, sedges and forbs. Like r2 it is also found in damp areas but has less River Tussock and a co-occurrence of other grass, rush and forb species.
  • r4 (Lacustrine grass-forbland of the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is a variable lake-margin and dry lake-bed vegetation type with structure and composition varying in response to lake wetting and drying cycles, with dominant species including Blown Grass, Notched Sedge, rushes and lakebed forbs. Largely confined to the lake beds of Lake George and Lake Bathurst during long droughts (in wet years it transforms to a wetland community).
  • r5 (Rytidosperma sp. – Austrostipa bigeniculata – Chrysocephalum apiculatum tussock grassland of the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is a mid-dense to dense low to tall tussock grassland dominated by various Wallaby Grasses, Red-leg Grass, Tall Speargrass and Kangaroo Grass along with a variety of forbs including Chrysocephalum apiculatum and Lomandra bracteata. A widespread community found in the moister lowland parts of the outer Monaro region, and also in the upper Shoalhaven River valley and areas around Canberra (ACT).
  • r6 (Dry tussock grassland of the Monaro in the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is an open to dense, mid-high to tall tussock grassland dominated by one or more of the following in the upper stratum: Snow Grass, Wallaby Grasses, Kangaroo grass, Rough Speargrass, Tall Speargrass and a variety of forbs. It occurs in cold, dry, rainshadow parts of the Monaro.
  • r7 (Themeda australis – Rytidosperma sp. – Poa sieberiana moist tussock grassland of the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is an open to dense, mid-high to tall tussock grassland with the upper stratum dominated by Kangaroo Grass and with a sub-dominance of Wallaby Grasses, Snow Grass and several palatable forbs. Often occurs in a mosaic with r5.
  • r8 (Themeda australis – Lomandra filiformis – Aristida ramosa dry tussock grassland in the South Eastern Highlands bioregion) is an open to dense, mid to tall tussock grassland with the upper stratum dominated by Kangaroo grass, Purple Wiregrass, Wattle Mat-rush and Brush-tail Speargrass and a range of forbs. Its sampled range is relatively restricted and found on steep, exposed sites in the mid-Murrumbidgee catchment and in the upper Shoalhaven and Goulburn districts.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCrookwell Known Found only in areas south of the Abercrombie River
South Eastern HighlandsKybeyan-Gourock Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None