Androcalva perlaria flowers September through to December producing many small, white flowers for insects to feed upon. Photo: C. Elliott.View image slideshow

Project title: Integrated conservation of the threatened species Androcalva perlaria (syn. Commersonia sp. Mt Groper).

Dates: 2010 - 2016

Funding: Grange Resources Limited

Location: Wellstead, 100km east of Albany, Western Australia

Research themes

  • propagation biology, tissue culture and cryogenics
  • seed dormancy and germination
  • conservation genetics and translocation
  • ecophysiology

Project description

Androcalva perlaria (Malvaceae s.l.) was only discovered relatively recently in 1993 and after extensive surveying has now been recorded from only a handful of bushland fragments on the Southern Coast of Western Australia. Across all known populations less than 400 plants remain. As part of an integrated conservation project for this species, a 5+-year research program has focussed on initially establishing an extensive ex situ plant container collection which has been used to generate large numbers of seeds (~250,000) and for the production of plants (via cuttings) for the establishment of new translocated populations around Wellstead.

In addition, other parts of the program have worked on understanding the seed biology of this species, creating a tissue culture collection, profiling the genetic diversity across populations, assessing the ecophysiology of plants under in situ and ex situ conditions and developing ways to freeze plant material in liquid nitrogen that can be used to revive this species in the event that it becomes extinct in the wild (cryogenics).

Outcomes so far have established that A. perlaria: 1) seeds are highly dormant and form a persistent soil seed bank that germinates readily in response to fire; 2) has retained a reasonable amount of genetic diversity across the different known populations; and 3) has a capacity for cryogenic storage, where different plant tissues can be successfully stored in liquid nitrogen and revived again at a later stage.

Key staff

Dr Shane Turner (BGPA/UWA)

Collaborators

Dr Janet Anthony (BGPA), Ms Christine Best (BGPA/UWA), Dr Eric Bunn (BGPA), Dr Adam Cross (BGPA/UWA), Dr Peter Golos (BGPA/UWA), Dr Paul Nevill (BGPA), Dr Jason Stevens (BGPA), Dr Carole Elliott (BGPA/UWA)

Students

Susan Whiteley (PhD; UWA 2013 - present) Reproduction biology of the threatened Androcalva perlaria (Malvaceae s.l.) and implications for in situ restoration.

Christine Best (Hons;UWA 2012) Physical dormancy in seeds of Androcalva perlaria (Malvaveae): A critically endangered species from the south-west of Western Australia.

Publications

Turner S, Best C and Barrett S (2013) Combining science with management: Understanding the seed ecology of ‘Pearl-like Androcalva’ underpins successful in situ regeneration by fire of this threatened species. Australasian Ecology – bulletin of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation Inc. 22: 19-21.

Best C (2012) Investigating the seed biology of the threatened species Androcalva perlaria. For People and Plants, Friends of Kings Park Magazine Issue 80: 24-25.

Turner S (2011) Integrated Conservation of Commersonia sp. Mt Groper: an Endangered Species from the South Coast of Western Australia. For People and Plants, Friends of Kings Park Magazine, Issue 72: 16-17.

Nikabadi S, Bunn E, Turner S, Stevens J and Dixon K (2010) Development of an in vitro propagation protocol for ex situ conservation of two critically endangered species of Commersonia (Malvaceae) from Western Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 58: 565-574.

Presentations

Best C (2014) Why a complete understanding of the seed ecology of Androcalva perlaria, an endangered Western Australian species, is essential for successful in situ regeneration. Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, 17 - 21 November 2014, Complexe Nouvata Parc, Nouméa, New Caledonia.

Whiteley S, Bunn E, Turner SR (2014) Ex situ conservation of the threatened Androcalva perlaria (Malvaceae s.l.). Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, 17 - 21 November 2014, Complexe Nouvata Parc, Nouméa, New Caledonia.

Turner SR (2012) Seed Ecology of two endangered Western Australian species: Androcalva perlaria and Symonanthus bancroftii, Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia 27 to 30 November, University Club of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.

Turner SR (2011) Integrated conservation of Commersonia sp. Mt Groper. Great Southern Great Science, 12 August 2011, Kalyenup Studio, Albany Entertainment Centre. Albany, Western Australia.

Turner SR (2011) Seed ecology of threatened species:  Implications for long-term management. XVIII International Botanical Congress, 24 - 30 July 2011, Melbourne Convention Centre, Melbourne, Victoria.

Turner SR (2010) Integrated conservation of Commersonia sp. Mt Groper. Threatened Flora Recovery Team Meeting, 11 May 2011, Wellstead Community Resource Centre, Albany, Western Australia.

Turner SR (2010) Seed ecology of threatened species: Implication for long-term management. Threatened Species Research Forum: A review of WA Government research into threatened species, 9 July 2010, Western Australia Ecology Centre, Perth Western Australia.

Androcalva perlaria is a small low growing fringing wetland species with crinkly leaves that are soft and hairy. Photo: S. Turner.The severely restricted habitat of Androcalva perlaria is seasonally waterlogged wetlands, in dense sedgeland. Photo: C. Elliott.In situ translocation trial investigating seed and seedling establishment. Photo: C. Elliott.Installing a grazing protected translocation trial at a new location. Photo: S. Turner.

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