Feather Leaved Banksia - Conservation Grants - FNPW

Feather-leaved Banksia

Rising from the Ashes

  • YEAR: 2016
  • STATE: Western Australia
  • FOCUS AREAS: Healing our Land/Saving Species/SDG 15: Life on Land

Thanks to your support, the critically endangered Feather-leaved Banksia (Banksia brownii) will receive much needed conservation attention. Banksias don’t live forever, they get old and susceptible to disease. They need fire to release seeds and recruit new plants. This population of Feather-leaved Banksia is in major decline due to a lack of fire, and a regeneration burn is needed to save it. Post-fire, the local community can help monitor the recovery of this plant. Before, this critically endangered plant was on the way out. Now, it can rise from the ashes.

FNPW support

This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.

Project overview

Several threatened Banksia species located on the south coast of Western Australia are currently undergoing major decline due to senescence and an associated increase in the occurrence of deleterious aerial canker causing fungi. A lack of fire has allowed these populations to age beyond their prime and become susceptible to disease. Species in the genus Banksia often require fire to release seed from woody cones and promote recruitment and regeneration of a population. We propose to undertake a regeneration burn of a natural population of the Critically Endangered Feather-leaved Banksia (Banksia brownii). Follow up monitoring will then be carried out to assess seedling recruitment, survival and growth rates, and the occurrence of aerial canker in the regenerating community.

A population of the Feather-leaved Banksia is currently undergoing major decline. The area in which the population occurs is long unburnt and largely consists of very old plants that are senescing and becoming vulnerable to attack from aerial cankers. Seed production is declining and although usually held within cones in the canopy until fire causes them to open, dying limbs and plants are now releasing their seed. Despite the seed fall, very few recruits have been recorded and it is assumed that fire is required to provide the appropriate conditions for germination. Therefore, if left to continue upon its current trajectory, the population will become extinct. This project involves undertaking a regeneration burn, monitoring recruitment, seedlings and monitoring the occurrence of aerial cankers within the regenerating community.

In association with this, the biology and fire response of the threatened Trioza barrettae, a host specific plant louse, will be investigated. The louse only occurs on Feather-leaved Banksia and population numbers decrease with increasing plant age. Prior to the fire, a proportion of the louse population will be translocated to safe site and returned upon establishment of new seedlings to ensure the plant louse population survives the fire. Population survival and growth will be monitored.

Entomologist Melinda Moir vacuuming B brownii to capture Trioza

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

Banskia brownii seedling

PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT

The project was completed in 2017.

This project was funded by FNPW in 2016.

PROJECT PARTNERS

WA Department of Parks and Wildlife Service is the lead organisation for this project.

Further information about our project partner can be found on their website:

www.dpaw.wa.gov.au

Project gallery

Entomologist Melinda Moir capturing Trioza from Banksia brownii. Trioza barrettae is a sap-sucking bug species that is endemic to Western Australia.

Entomologist Melinda Moir vacuuming B brownii to capture Trioza

Entomologist Melinda Moir vacuuming B brownii to capture Trioza

Entomologist Melinda Moir releasing Trioza on to a B brownii plant within the translocated population

Entomologist Melinda Moir releasing Trioza on to a B brownii plant within the translocated population

Entomologist Melinda Moir and research scientist Bec Dillon capturing Trioza for translocation

Entomologist Melinda Moir and research scientist Bec Dillon capturing Trioza for translocation

Unhealthy individual of Banksia brownii

Unhealthy individual of Banksia brownii

Unhealthy and dying Banksia brownii

Unhealthy and dying Banksia brownii

A regeneration burn on the natural population of Banskia brownii

A regeneration burn on the natural population of Banskia brownii

A regeneration burn on the natural population of Banskia brownii

A regeneration burn on the natural population of Banskia brownii

Latest news on this project.

The regeneration burn successfully removed the aerial canker infested material from the site and was successful in promoting seed germination. Monitoring  located 3 germinants of the Feather-leaved banksia, and 10 days later 106 seedlings were counted. It is hoped that more germinants will emerge during winter 2016. Six individuals of Trioza barrettae were captured from the B. brownii prior to the burn and relocated to a translocated population of B. brownii.

The canopy seed bank of a declining natural population of the Critically Endangered Feather-leaved Banksia (Banksia brownii) was quantified in September 2015. On the 10th of October, entomologist Melinda Moir, captured six individuals of the host endemic Triozid (Trioza barattae) from the natural Banksia brownii population and relocated them onto plants within a translocated population of B. brownii. A regeneration burn on the natural population was undertaken on 21st of October 2015. The burn was conducted successfully, removing all material infected with aerial canker from the site. Five healthy B. brownii plants were excluded from the fire.  Follow up monitoring of the site commenced in November 2015. Monitoring occurred monthly thereafter and the first B. brownii seedlings were located on the 20th of May (3 seedlings). Another site visit on the 30th May resulted in a count of approximately 100 seedlings. Fencing of the seedlings was undertaken to prevent browsing by kangaroos.

In the future, it may be necessary for nursery grown seedlings to be added to the site to increase population size if natural recruitment is less than satisfactory. Additional seedlings could also be added to the nearby translocated population of Banksia brownii to increase the likelihood of creating a second viable, self-sustaining population for this species and the associated host specific Trioza barettae.

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