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Wollemia nobilis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES ARAUCARIACEAE

Scientific Name: Wollemia nobilis
Species Authority: W.G.Jones, K.Hill & J.M.Allen
Common Name(s):
English Wollemi Pine
Taxonomic Notes: The genus Wollemia was first described in 1995 following the discovery of a small group of conifers in a remote gorge in Wollemi National Park in 1994. To date only one species is known - Wollemia nobilis. The pollen from Wollemia is virtually indistinguishable from the fossil pollen assigned to the fossil genus Dilwynites which has a fossil record that dates back to the Turonian stage of the Cretaceous period, some 90 million years ago (Dettmann and Clifford 2005). This indicates that the genus, rather than the extant species, has a very long fossil record.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-10-20
Assessor(s): Thomas, P.
Reviewer(s): Keith, D. & Farjon, A.
Justification:
Wollemia nobilis was originally assessed in 1998 as Critically Endangered on the basis that the total number of mature individuals was less than 50. Since then, further surveys have indicated that the total population consists of about 80 mature individuals or clumps and about 300 juveniles and seedlings. Consequently, W. nobilis no longer qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion D.

Its restricted extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) of less than 100 km2 and less than 10 km2 respectively, are within the thresholds for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion B. The population is confined to a single location and the presence of exotic pathogens coupled with the impacts of unauthorized access represent a decline in the quality of habitat in at least part of its range. On this basis, W. nobilis is assessed as Critically Endangered.
History:
1998 Critically Endangered (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1998 Critically Endangered
1997 Endangered (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Wollemia nobilis is only known from Wollemi National Park in New South Wales, Australia. Its EOO is less than 100 km2 and the AOO is under 10 km2.
Countries:
Native:
Australia (New South Wales)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are currently estimated to be 80 mature individuals or multistemmed clumps. Additionally, 300 seedlings and juveniles have been recorded. Some individual trees may reach almost 40 m in height with diameters up to 1 m. Coppicing from the base is frequent (Department of Environment and Conservation NSW, 2006). Genetic studies indicate that there is very little variation within the population (Peakall et al. 2003).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: All stands occur in deep narrow sandstone gorges in warm temperate rainforest of Ceratopetalum apetalum, Doryphora sassafras and Acmena smithii, with an understorey comprising several fern species such as Dicksonia antarctica, Cyathea australis, Sticherus flabellatus, Adiantum diaphanum, Doodia aspera and Blechnum nudum. Most individuals are located on ledges or grow from cliffs within the gorges. Eucalypt woodland dominated by Eucalyptus piperita surrounds these gorges (Benson and Allen 2007).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The small population size and very restricted distribution mean that W. nobilisis very susceptible to the effects of human activities or stochastic events. Specific threats include exotic pathogens such as Phytophthora cinnamonii, the introduction of exotic weeds, trampling and other forms of disturbance associated with unauthorised access. Intense catastrophic fires are a significant threat. Changes in rainfall and temperature patterns associated with climate change represent further potential threats (Department of Environment and Conservation NSW, 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Wollemia nobilis is listed as endangered under both the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. All known locations and individuals are within the Wollemi National Park.  This national park is also within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Protective measures include restricting access to the site and strict phytosanitary precautions for all researchers visiting the sites to undertake approved research and monitoring. An ex-situ conservation and research programme was also initiated. As part of this programme, commercial propagation was undertaken and the resultant plants distributed for sale worldwide. The primary purpose of the commercialisation programme was to protect the wild stands from impacts associated with illegal collections and generate income for the continued conservation of W. nobilis and other threatened species.
The official recovery plan is available from the New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation (2006).

Citation: Thomas, P. 2011. Wollemia nobilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 October 2014.
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