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Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES PODOCARPACEAE

Scientific Name: Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii
Species Authority: (F.Muell.) Hook.f.
Common Name(s):
English Dwarf Mountain Pine
Synonym(s):
Dacrydium fitzgeraldii F.Muell.
Microstrobos fitzgeraldii (F.Muell.) J.Garden & L.A.S.Johnson

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-10-12
Assessor(s): Thomas, P.
Reviewer(s): Benson, J. & Mill, R.
Justification:
Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii meets the criteria for listing under Critically Endangered due to its restricted extent of occurrence (EOO) (<50 km2), its restriction to a single location that is subject to threats (invasive species and pollution), severely fragmented population where gene or pollen flow is very unlikely to occur between any of the seven currently known sites and a continued decline in the quality of its habitat.
History:
1998 Endangered
1997 Endangered (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: All currently-known subpopulations occur in the upper Blue Mountains between Wentworth Falls and Katoomba, a range of 9 km, News South Wales, Australia. The total extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be less than 20 km2. Area of occupancy (AOO), based on presence in 4 km2 grid cells, is estimated to be less than 12 km2. Actual area of occupancy would be much less due to its restricted habitat.
Countries:
Native:
Australia (New South Wales)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The most recent census (Jones 1994) recorded a total of 455 individuals. It also indicated that no seedlings had been recruited during the previous six years. The total number of genetically distinct individuals is likely to be much less than 455 as the major method of reproduction appears to be from layering. Pollen and gene flow between sites is very unlikely due to physical and ecological barriers. There appears to be very little prospect of re-colonization from one site to another.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A very slow growing, dioecious, woody shrub that may reach 2.5 m in height, spreading to 5 m (Jones 1994). Restricted to the spray zone at the base of, and on ledges along the side of a few waterfalls flowing over south facing steep cliffs.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is not known to be used and is rare in cultivation.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats relate to water quality and the possibility of catastrophic fire and or occasional drought events. This species has probably been restricted to these south-facing cliffs to survive increased fire and temperatures across southern Australia over the millennia, especially considering comparisons to the climate of its nearest relatives in Tasmania, 1,500 km to the south. One catastrophic fire in an El Niño period could destroy some populations and while it is unlikely that all would perish, recruitment and re-establishment would be very slow. In the 1990s, water quality was killing plants due to algae growth on stems and leaves but improved sewerage treatment and piping after 1994 has lessened this threat. There is also some minor damage by people to plants near tracks. Invasive species such as blackberries (Rubus sp). and hybrid Montbretia are also a threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is nationally listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and is also listed as Endangered under New South Wales state legislation (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995). The majority of subpopulations occur within the Blue Mountains National Park. Weed control measures have been implemented and water quality at the waterfalls and in the catchment areas is being monitored. A limited ex situ collection of clones is maintained at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Citation: Thomas, P. 2013. Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 August 2014.
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