Caladenia leucochila (Collie Spider Orchid). Photo: B. DavisView image slideshowProject title: Integrated conservation of Western Australia’s threatened orchids

Dates: 2017 - Ongoing

Funding:Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

Location: Yallingup and Augusta, Western Australia

Research themes

  • mycorrhizal ecology
  • symbiotic propagation
  • translocation
  • pollination ecology

Project description

Western Australia is an orchid biodiversity hotspot of worldwide significance, with an estimated 400 species of orchid, many of which are endemic. There are currently 41 WA orchid taxa listed as Threatened, with the key threatening processes being habitat loss due to land clearance and fragmentation, loss of pollinators, weed invasion, collection and land degradation. Orchids represent a conservation challenge as they have complex and sometimes highly specific ecological interactions with pollinators above ground and their mycorrhizal partners below ground. Overlaying the immediate needs of the orchid are the independent requirements of the pollinator (nectar sources, brood sites) and the mycorrhizal partner (carbon sources, soil attributes).

Kings Park Science has an established history of ex situ conservation of Western Australia’s orchids in terms of maintaining a large living collection of orchids, seed banking orchid seed and maintaining an orchid mycorrhizal library. Our team has also successfully undertaken several orchid translocations from material collection, through to propagation, outplanting and monitoring in the form of experimental research and species recovery.

Kings Park Science is currently undertaking research and conservation action for Caladenia busselliana, with approximately 900 seedlings in cultivation, mycorrhizal strains from all wild individuals and seed in long term storage. The major aim of this work is to bolster rapidly dwindling natural populations and provide a seed and fungal orchard for conservation purposes to be housed at Kings Park. This work will be expanded in 2018 to include Caladenia lodgeana and Caladenia viridescens.

Key staff

Dr Belinda Davis (BGPA)

Collaborators

Dr Jason Stevens, Dr Ben Miller, Dr Eric Bunn, Natasha Moore, Ben Lullfitz, Blackwood District DBCA

Paracaleana nigrita (Flying Duck Orchid). Photo: B. Davis. Caladenia flava (Cowslip Orchid). Photo: B. Davis Caladenia busselliana (Bussell's Spider Orchid). Photo: B. Davis Caladenia busselliana (Bussell's Spider Orchid) seedlings in the Kings Park glasshouses. Photo: B. Davis

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Visitor disruptions will occur in the Saw Avenue Picnic Area from Monday 25 March 2019 due to toilet facilities upgrade works.

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