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Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

THE VALUE OF FLEURIEU

SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

1


Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps are water-dependent ecosystems that support a diversity of aquatic plants and animals. They are characterised by having permanently waterlogged soil.

The Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps were once narrow wetlands established along watercourses from the top of the catchment to the coast. These swamp watercourses are now broken up due to agricultural development, leaving isolated fragments of swamps which are becoming increasingly rare. There are many types of Fleurieu Peninsula Swamp, and all are important. Each swamp has its own mix of soil type, water cycles, wetting and drying pattern, landform and vegetation, all influenced by the underlying rock and soil types. Swamps usually have dense vegetation at varying heights in different parts of the swamp, providing a range of habitat types for wildlife.

A disappearing treasure We need our vanishing swamps now more than ever. Keeping swamps in good condition is important for many reasons. Natural water filters Swamps and their plants act as a natural filter to trap sediments and nutrients and break down pollutants from fertilisers and pesticides. This improves the quality of water that flows downstream, runs into other watercourses or recharges into groundwater. Animals and plants rely on healthy swamps to thrive

Year-round water Like giant sponges, swamps respond to varying climatic conditions by normalising water levels in their surrounding environments. For instance, swamps control the effects of floods by absorbing and slowly releasing rainfall and runoff over time. This same action can help maintain stream flows during dry periods. Many Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps exist where natural springs reach the surface and discharge water. A refuge for threatened species Although rare themselves, Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps are home to many vulnerable plants and animals. Several threatened species are found in Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps because they are swamp specialists. Others, including the endangered Southern Mount Lofty Ranges Emu-wren, use these remaining fragments of habitat as a last refuge. This wren relies on the structure of the swamp vegetation for foraging and nesting. Of the approximately 170 native plant species that grow in Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps, almost half are either rare or threatened at the national, state or regional level. These plants are so rare that they could be faced with extinction if we do not manage our swamps well. Our unique natural landscapes Sadly, nearly all of our valuable Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps have been altered through clearance, grazing or weed invasion (often all three). Most are in a degraded condition and vulnerable to further damage. Swamps add tourism value to the Fleurieu Peninsula by contributing to the visual diversity of the landscape. A managed swamp will help ensure the livelihood of its many beautiful inhabitants, as well as enhance that of local communities.


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

Native Swamp Rats build tunnel-like runways in the dense mat of ground layer plants and sedges at the swamp edge and live in shallow burrows.

Sedge-skipper Butterflies lay their eggs on Cutting Grass. The larvae eat the leaves at night and shelter during the day in curls of leaf blade constructed by the caterpillar.

FACT SHEET

1

We need our vanishing swamps now more than ever. Almost half of all swamp plants are either rare or threatened.

Southern Mount Lofty Ranges Emu-wrens catch insects and build their nest amongst the dense vegetation.

Southern Pygmy Perch hide amongst the dense aquatic vegetation. These small fish feed on water bugs.

The sleek Yellow-bellied Water Skink swiftly chases tiny invertebrates amongst the ground litter at the swamp edges.

The praying mantis uses camouflage as it waits to snare prey in its grasping, spiky forelegs.

A home for many A swamp teems with life of all kinds. This variety of life is called biodiversity. Swamp biodiversity depends on well-managed swamps to maintain habitat for swamp plants and animals at both

a local and catchment level, providing benefits beyond individual swamps. The birds and bats that live in swamps can be particularly useful in controlling insect pests in nearby cropping or pasture land, improving the overall health of agricultural properties.


Left: Grazing and farmland can threaten swamps Right: Swamp health is a critical factor in maintaining valuable biodiversity, including the Bibrons Toadlet

Swamps in danger Some swamp management practices are inappropriate because they may damage the biodiversity and sustainability of swamps. Check with all the relevant authorities before engaging in modification of a swamp in any way. This includes: • new draining systems and changes in water extraction • slashing/mowing of native vegetation • heavy grazing pressure • draining and water extraction that alters hydrological processes and water quality • inappropriate weed control.

All Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps are protected by both state

Protect and retain your swamp All Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps are protected by both state and federal legislation. This can affect how you as a land manager manage your swamp.

and federal legislation.

Removing native vegetation, slashing, burning, and changes to grazing regimes are management actions that all require appropriate approvals from the Native Vegetation Council.

The factsheet series Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

1

THE VALUE OF FLEURIEU

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

MANAGING

SWAMP WEEDS

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

2

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

4

SHEET

HEALTHY

SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

3

SHEET

MOUNT LOFTY RANGES

SOUTHERN EMU-WREN

Areas with nationally recognised endangered habitats (such as the Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps) or individual species are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. For further information, visit www.ea.gov.au/epbc/about/index.html. In relation to Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps, the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 is legislation which: • influences water use and drainage/watercourse management influences practices that affect the long term sustainability of land and soil • sets out obligations for weed management and feral animal control. For further information, visit www.amlrnrm.sa.gov.au or www.samdbnrm.sa.gov.au. The protection of wildlife and their habitats is governed by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 and the Native Vegetation Act 1991. For further information, visit www.environment.sa.gov.au.

Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board  Willunga Regional Office Phone 08 8550 3400 5 Aldinga Road www.amlrnrm.sa.gov.au Willunga SA 5172

Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc.  Strathalbyn Natural Resource Centre 6 Catherine Street Phone 08 8536 5612 PO Box 674 www.gwlap.org.au Strathalbyn SA 5255

Mt Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren and Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps Recovery Program Conservation Council of South Australia Level 1, 157 Franklin Street Phone 08 8223 5155 www.conservationsa.org.au Adelaide SA 5000

South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board  Murray Bridge Head Office Mannum Road Phone 08 8532 9100 PO Box 2343 www.samdbnrm.sa.gov.au Murray Bridge SA 5253

For further information

A GUIDE TO

SWAMPS

Landholders can protect their healthy swamps with a Wildlife Sanctuary or a Heritage Agreement. For further information, visit www.environment.sa.gov.au/ Conservation/Native_vegetation.

Photos by Kirstin Abley, Mark Bachmann, Michael Hammer, Tom Hands and others, provided courtesy of the Goolwa-Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc. and Conservation Council SA. Sedge-skipper Butterfly photo by Lindsay Hunt provided courtesy of the Butterfly Conservation Society SA Inc. Printed under an ISO 14001-certified EMS on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Creative consulting by Ecocreative® <www.ecocreative.com.au>

Government of South Australia

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

A GUIDE TO

HEALTHY

SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

2


Swamp health is a vital ingredient in species and landscape conservation on the Fleurieu Peninsula. If swamps are healthy, so are their inhabitants and surroundings. A healthy swamp can be identified by several key characteristics. A healthy swamp usually has many different types of plants that grow at varying heights. The three key layers (or strata) to look for (see below) are different habitat types.

What makes a habitat The range and variance of native plants in a swamp is a gauge of its health. The pattern of plants in the swamp gives it a patchiness which is good for wildlife. The presence of many different types of plants and habitats usually indicates a healthy and intact swamp. Shrub habitat Shrubs have woody trunks and are usually the tallest plants in a swamp. Thickets of shrubs (such as Tea-tree) taller than head-height are common sights in inland swamps. Elsewhere, thickets of shrubs from knee- to shoulder-high are common. Other plants grow in the lower layers or strata under these shrubs. Examples are Prickly Tea-tree, Silky Tea-tree, Swamp Honey-myrtle, Swamp Heath, Lignum and Native Broom. Sedge and habitat A mainstay of many swamps is the dense knee- to shoulderhigh bristle of upright reeds, sedges and rushes. These plants grow in clumps called tussocks and often more than one species grow from within the same area. Examples are Twig Rush, Slender Twine Rush, Tall Yellow Eye, Pithy Sword Sedge and the larger Common Reed, Bulrush and the native Red-fruit Saw Sedge. Small herbs can cover the ground below.

Swamp plant diversity and

Â

Upper canopy: trees, woody shrubs, tall reeds and sedges

Reed habitat Tall reeds, Bulrushes, Lignum and other plants to head high are common in swamps in flattish areas near the Murray River and lakes. Small wildflowers can grow underneath. Fern habitat Ferns need the moisture of a swamp to thrive and reproduce. Ferns are ancient plants that reproduce by spores. Sometimes they can be the dominant group of plants in a swamp, growing over other plants to form dense thickets. Low-growing sedges and rushes can grow beneath them. Examples are Coral Fern, Soft Water Fern and Bracken. Wildflowers and herbs Small clearings in the swamp allow dainty wildflowers to flower. These plants do not have woody stems. Examples are Austral Brooklime, Lax Marsh Flower, Ivy-leaf Violet and Native Centella. Mosses, lichens and liverworts Mosses look more like tiny bright green pine trees. Liverworts are like tiny flat green plates. Lichens are flaky scaly crusts, often on other plants, and often not green in colour. Climbers and creepers Climbers and creepers growing around and between other plants help to give swamps their dense structure. Examples are Tangled Rope Rush, Large Bindweed and Hop Goodenia.

2m

communities Middle layer: rushes, sedges, ferns and low woody shrubs Lower layer: ground covers, liverworts, small ferns, rushes, wildflowers and herbs

1m


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

A variety of conditions A healthy swamp often has zones of different plants adapted to different levels of wet and dry. The pattern of plants varies

Type of plant

2

Zone indicators

Damp

Wet

Very wet

Mosses, lichens and liverworts

Mosses

Mosses and lichens

Mosses and liverworts

Wildflowers and herbs

Centella

Lax Marsh Flower

Pennywort

Ferns

Bracken

Coral Fern

Soft Water Fern

Climbers and creepers

Tangled Rope Rush

Creeping Raspwort

Austgral Brooklime

Reeds, rushes and sedges

Pale Rush

Twig Rushes

Bulrush

Tall shrubs

Prickly Tea-tree

Swamp Heath

Silky Tea-tree

Different kinds of plants

SHEET

as the dampness of the soil varies. The presence of several zones usually means a healthy and intact swamp. Here are some general zone indicators to look for.

Zonation of plants based on soil dampness

Swamp feature to look for

FACT

A healthy swamp

Condition or state of health

checklist

Healthy

Good

Recovering

Residual

No

No

Most layers

1 layer

1 layer

Unlikely

Unlikely

Possible

Unlikely

Over 60%

30 – 60%

30 – 60%

0 – 30%

Under 25%

25 – 40%

>40%

>40%

A range of different kinds of native plants

Different layers (or strata) Native plants grow at several heights or layers from ground to reeds, ferns and tall shrubs

Zonation Different plants grow together in different areas or zones as water levels change

Different ages of plants Plants of all ages, including young plants, expanding out from the current edges of the swamp

Coverage of plants Native plants grow close enough together to shade over 60% of the ground

Low weed presence Few weeds are present (figures in % swamp covered)

A healthy swamp on the Fleurieu Peninsula

A healthy swamp often has zones of different plants adapted to different levels of wet and dry. The pattern of plants varies as the dampness of the soil varies.


Left: It is vital for property owners to recognise the importance of swamp health Right: A variety of plants is an indicator of swamp health

degraded the swamp, the more work may be required to restore it.

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

1

MANAGING

SWAMP WEEDS

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

2

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

4

SHEET

A GUIDE TO

HEALTHY

SHEET

3

MOUNT LOFTY RANGES

SOUTHERN EMU-WREN

SHEET

Manage your swamp based on its current condition or state of health The right actions to take will be based on a swamp’s current condition or state of health.

Options for swamp natural vegetation regrowth Assist natural regeneration Native plants normally self-seed and regrow new seedlings by themselves. This is called natural regeneration and it is the normal process in a healthy swamp. It is the most natural method and gives the best results for biodiversity. Natural regeneration is usually the low input option. You can assist this by removing things that threaten the existing native vegetation. You may need to control weeds, remove stock, put up fences or change drainage techniques. Then it is wait and watch. Maintenance should not be required unless weeds prevent the regeneration of native species, when weed control will be necessary.

Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board  Willunga Regional Office Phone 08 8550 3400 5 Aldinga Road www.amlrnrm.sa.gov.au Willunga SA 5172

Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc.  Strathalbyn Natural Resource Centre 6 Catherine Street Phone 08 8536 5612 PO Box 674 www.gwlap.org.au Strathalbyn SA 5255

Mt Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren and Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps Recovery Program Conservation Council of South Australia Level 1, 157 Franklin Street Phone 08 8223 5155 www.conservationsa.org.au Adelaide SA 5000

South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board  Murray Bridge Head Office Mannum Road Phone 08 8532 9100 PO Box 2343 www.samdbnrm.sa.gov.au Murray Bridge SA 5253

For further information

SWAMPS

FACT

Remove and manage threats Remove threats from good swamps, such as thick patches of woody weeds and aggressive grass weeds, heavy grazing pressure and inappropriate drainage (refer to Fact Sheet 3: Managing Swamp Weeds). Restore native vegetation Restore natural processes that keep the swamp healthy by encouraging natural regeneration. Before considering revegetation it is worthwhile seeing what species return to an area after protection from stock grazing or recovery from weed control. Contact your local NRM office to obtain a list of swamp species local to your area and a list of local growers.

The factsheet series SWAMPS

Protecting and managing your swamp to keep it healthy or to maintain its current values involves a series of steps to improve the swamps. The more degraded the swamp, the more work may be required to restore it. Protect and retain Consider protection through a sanctuary, wildlife refuge or Heritage Agreement and understand protective legislation.

The more

THE VALUE OF FLEURIEU

Protect, restore and improve your swamp

Photos provided courtesy of the Goolwa-Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc. and Conservation Council SA. Printed under an ISO 14001-certified EMS on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Creative consulting by Ecocreative® <www.ecocreative.com.au>

Government of South Australia

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

MANAGING

SWAMP WEEDS

FACT SHEET

3


Weed control improves the quality of swamps by increasing the number and variety of native plants. However, it is vital to weigh up the benefits of different weed control methods to achieve the best outcome for complex swamp habitats. A delicate balance Important habitat In the absence of native plants, weeds can provide shelter, food sources and corridors for native animals. Plan your weed control carefully and time it to reduce impact on native animals (avoid the spring breeding season). Remove weeds gradually and combine this with planting local native swamp species that will provide similar habitat or cover.

Soil stabilisers Weeds often have a role in stabilising the soil in swamps and the surrounds. Large-scale weed removal needs to be undertaken with care, preferably during the dry times of the year. Combine weed removal with planting local native swamp species. In some cases, interim soil stabilisation measures may be necessary while the new native species are being established.

Woody weeds

Rushes

Major weeds in swamps Common name

Gorse

Montpellier Broom

Blackberry

Jointed Rush

Scientific name

Ulex europeaus

Genista monspessulana

Rubus species

Juncus articulatus

Height

Up to 300 cm

Up to 300 cm

Up to 500 cm

15 – 50 cm

Appearance

A dense spiky shrub with green ridged stems, twigs with clustered spines, dark green leaves in three leaflets. Old shoots become brown. Produces big bright yellow pea flowers.

Large shrub with several erect stems. Small yellow pea flowers.

A semi-deciduous scrambling shrub, with dark green to purple leaves. Flowers white and produces black berry fruit.

Low growing perennial rush. Dark green leaves often reddish at base. Distinctive horizontal ridges can be felt (articulations) on leaves.

Flowering period

Spring

Spring – summer

Spring – summer

Throughout the year

Similar native plants

Prickly Moses (Acacia verticillata) is more delicate, spines are in rings and flowers are like a wattle.

Native Broom (Viminaria juncea) is a tall willowy shrub with long narrow leaves and flowers in groups.

Native Raspberry (Rubus parvifolius).

Juncus planifolius – no ridges along leaf.

Problem in swamps

Out-competes native shrubs and smothers understorey.

Out-competes native shrubs and smothers understorey.

Out-competes native shrubs and smothers understorey.

Competes with native rushes and grasses.

Control method

Pull small infestations. Spot spray individuals in paddocks. Slash and burn large infestations.

Pull small infestations. Slash and spot spray regrowth in large infestations. Fire followed by herbicide is destructive in swamps and not recommended.

Pull small infestations. Slash and spot spray regrowth in large infestations. Will persist unless treated completely. Can regrow from runners and seedlings.

Pull or dig ensuring all root system re Replant with native rushes.

Control season

October – April

While flowering and before seed set.

Between flowering and fruiting periods.

Throughout the year.

Cautionary

Can be used by native birds for nest sites. Do not remove during the spring breeding season.

TAKE CARE with identification. Can be confused with Native Broom (Viminaria juncea).

Can harbour pest animals. but also be used by native animals for protection from predators.

TAKE CARE with identification. Chem appropriate for these rushes.


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

Not all weeds are a problem Some weed species may not be causing any adverse effects within the swamp. The damage created by removing them might outweigh their perceived environmental threat.

Basic guidelines for weed removal • Seek advice and discuss your plans with a natural resource management expert. • Make sure it is a weed! Some weeds are very similar to native plant species. Start with the chart below. If unsure, check! • Begin with the least weedy patch and work towards the denser areas. • Select the most appropriate weed control method. • Minimise soil disturbance to prevent the prolific growth of aggressive weed species. • Remove any parts of the weeds that could regrow, such as seed, ripe fruit, runners and rhizomes. • Encourage regeneration of native plants by clearing space for them to spread and grow. • Monitor the area regularly for new weeds or seedlings of the targeted weed.

FACT SHEET

3

• Maintain the area in following years with follow-up work. • Consider any possible off-target damage from your choice of weed control, and choose methods that are the least likely to negatively affect aquatic animals and native plants. Hand pulling for small infestations and slashing annual weeds before seeds set are preferable techniques.

Using herbicides Swamp animals and herbicides Many swamp animals, such as frogs, are very sensitive to the effects of herbicides. In some cases, they may cause more harm than good. Herbicides must be used judiciously for the best overall health of the swamp. Difficult weeds Difficult weeds may require the use of herbicides. Choose herbicides with no or low toxicity surfactants that have less impact on sensitive animals such as frogs. Aim to use direct application methods, such as cut and swab or stem injection, rather than spraying. Biactive Glyphosate is best for cut and swab in the wetter areas and for spraying woody weeds away from the wettest areas. Triclopyr may also be used.

Choose herbicides with no or low toxicity surfactants that have less impact on sensitive animals.

Grasses

IMPORTANT!

Soft Rush

Yorkshire Fog

Paspalum

Sweet Vernal Grass

Juncus effusus

Holcus lanatus

Paspalum dilatatum

Anthoxanthum odoratum

30 – 150 cm

30 – 80 cm

100 – 200 cm

30 – 100 cm

Upright perennial rush with yellowish-green soft stems.

A grass with soft flat bluish leaves and hairy blades. Produces white feathery flower heads with touch of pink.

Perennial dark green grass. Flowerhead has a distinct look of finger-like branches along flowering stem.

Leaves are flat and hairy. Flower head has a distinctive sweet smell.

Summer – early autumn

Spring – early summer

Late spring – autumn

Spring – summer

J. holoschoenus has harder leaves, more upright.

J. pauciflorus has larger flowerhead and narrower cylindrical leaves. Yorkshire Fog has distinctive bluish-green colour and softly hairy leaves.

Look for flower and seed head arrangement of Paspalum.

The sweet smell and pointed flower-head spike of Sweet Vernal Grass are distinctive features.

Invasive.

Invasive.

Competes with native understorey.

Possible fire hazard in summer.

emoved. Cut back when flowering.

During flowering period.

mical and mechanical treatments not

Herbicides applied to the edge of a waterbody, or in wetted areas around it, must be registered for use in aquatic environments and must be applied as on chemical label. Use chemicals only when absolutely necessary. Always seek advice from your local NRM office before using chemicals.

Refer overleaf for more

Pull or dig small infestations while flowering and before seeds set. Spot spray large infestation when plant actively growing and leaves are green.

detail on weed control methods.

During flowering period whist leaves are still green. TAKE CARE with identification.

Above: Southern Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingii)


Herbicide application techniques Method

Type of weed

Equipment required

Notes

Foliar spray

Herbs, bulbs, woody weeds

• • • •

Ensure herbicides is being applied at right concentration and rate to cover the foliage of the pest plant with fine droplets and avoid run-off. A flat fan nozzle and low pump pressure will assist in reducing spray drift.

Cut and swab

Woody weeds, shrubs and trees

• Saw, chainsaw, loppers • Herbicide mix • Personal protective equipment (goggles and gloves as a minimum) • Brush/sponge for herbicide application

Ensure herbicide is applied quickly to cut stump (within 30 seconds in most cases). Apply during active growth period of plant for best results. Do not apply herbicide to the point of run-off.

Frill and paint

Shrubs and trees

• Axe, hatchet • Herbicide mix • Personal protective equipment (goggles and gloves as a minimum) • Brush for herbicide application

Frill trunk thoroughly, also treat major surface roots where visible. Expose sapwood and apply herbicide to it immediately. For deciduous species, apply during active growth period.

Drill and fill

Shrubs and trees

• • • • •

Drill Application bottle Injection gun Herbicide Personal protective equipment (goggles and gloves as a minimum)

Scrape main or major stems of plant. Apply herbicide immediately after scraping.

Scrape and paint

Woody weeds

• • • •

Knife or sharp blade Paint brush, sponge, applicator bottle Herbicide Personal protective equipment (goggles and gloves as a minimum)

Scrape main or major stems of plant. Apply herbicide immediately after scraping.

Wick and wipe

Herbs, bulbs, rushes

• • • • •

Knapsack Vehicle-mounted tank Wick applicator Herbicide mix Personal protective equipment (as per label)

Cover foliage thoroughly. Apply during active growth period.

Consider any possible offtarget damage from your choice of weed control.

The factsheet series Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

1

THE VALUE OF FLEURIEU

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

MANAGING

SWAMP WEEDS

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

2

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

4

SHEET

HEALTHY

SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

3

MOUNT LOFTY RANGES

SOUTHERN EMU-WREN

Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board  Willunga Regional Office Phone 08 8550 3400 5 Aldinga Road www.amlrnrm.sa.gov.au Willunga SA 5172

Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc.  Strathalbyn Natural Resource Centre 6 Catherine Street Phone 08 8536 5612 PO Box 674 www.gwlap.org.au Strathalbyn SA 5255

Mt Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren and Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps Recovery Program Conservation Council of South Australia Level 1, 157 Franklin Street Phone 08 8223 5155 www.conservationsa.org.au Adelaide SA 5000

South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board  Murray Bridge Head Office Mannum Road Phone 08 8532 9100 PO Box 2343 www.samdbnrm.sa.gov.au Murray Bridge SA 5253

For further information

A GUIDE TO

SWAMPS

Knapsack Vehicle-mounted tank Herbicide mix Personal protective equipment (see product label)

SHEET

Southern Brown Tree Frog photo by Steve Walker. Photos provided courtesy of the Goolwa-Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc. and Conservation Council SA. Printed under an ISO 14001-certified EMS on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Creative consulting by Ecocreative® <www.ecocreative.com.au>

Government of South Australia

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

MOUNT LOFTY RANGES

SOUTHERN EMU-WREN

FACT SHEET

4


The endangered Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren is a secretive bird that is unique to the Mount Lofty Ranges and Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia. It is dependent upon our vanishing Fleurieu Swamps for its survival. Appearance The MLSREW is a small bird weighing around 7 grams and is about 16–19 cm long, including the 9–12 cm characteristic filamentous tail comprising just six feathers (that look similar to emu feathers). Its wings are short and rounded. Both sexes are tawny-brown with dark striations on their upper-sides. Males are distinguished from females by pale-blue upper-breast, throat and eyebrows. Males retain their blue colouration throughout the year. Communication Pair or family group members tend to remain close together and maintain contact using faint high-pitched calls. The typical territorial call is a delicate high-pitched trill, often issued from an exposed perch (e.g. top of shrub), mostly by males. Alarm/scolding calls are brief, low-pitched and buzzy.

A female MLRSEW

Since 1993, habitat changes and restrictions have caused a steady drop in Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren (MLRSEW) numbers on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Although this trend is clear, it is difficult to measure the true impact of habitat degradation on such a sensitive bird that is so seldom seen. These wrens move secretively and close to the ground, their short, rounded wings keep their flight slow and journeys brief. Their tendency towards short flights of several metres makes it difficult to broaden MLRSEW populations, and highlights the importance of ideal swampy habitats to conceal their movement.

The Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren Emu-wrens (genus Stipiturus) are members of the passerine family Maluridae (Australian and New Guinean fairy-wrens) and are endemic to Australia. The MLRSEW (S. malachurus intermedius) is one of eight subspecies of the Southern Emu-wren. Diet The MLRSEW feeds mainly on small invertebrates, mostly insects, such as beetles, bugs, wasps and moths.

Breeding The MLRSEW breeds during spring–summer. One or two broods are raised each season, with most young hatching between September and December. In good quality habitat, breeding pairs require around one hectare to breed successfully. Nests are domed, constructed mainly from loosely woven fine-leaved grasses and sedges, and are typically well concealed in dense cover around 30 cm above ground or water. The usual clutch size is three eggs, with young fledging around two weeks after they hatch. The young then remain hidden in dense cover for 1–2 weeks until they are more capable of flight and movement during family group foraging. MLRSEW young are independent by about three months of age and capable of breeding in the following season. Pairs sometimes commence a second brood before their young are fully independent. Habitat The MLRSEW inhabits two general habitat types: swamp and dry heath. A key structural feature of swamp and dry heath habitats is a low dense layer (>70% foliage cover and vertically dense), usually up to about one metre above ground, dominated by shrubs, sedges and ferns in swamps, and shrubs, sedges and wiregrass in dry heath. The MLRSEW is found in Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps, which are listed as Critically Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

4

The filamentous tail of the MLRSEW is an iconic feature

Of the 16 known remaining Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren Distribution and population The MLRSEW currently inhabits the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges–Fleurieu Peninsula region of South Australia, from Mount Compass in the north to Deep Creek in the south and east to the lower Finniss River. Its overall historical range is similar. It probably occurred wherever suitable habitat existed throughout its historical range, with a distribution that was naturally continuous in some areas and naturally fragmented in others.

Threats to our wrens Surveys prior to 1993 are limited but the MLRSEW is known to have disappeared from several separate locations between 1920 and 1993 (Back Valley, Currency Creek, and Yundi), and from several specific sites adjacent current or recently occurring populations during the same period (including the Mount Compass area, Cox Scrub Conservation Park, Hindmarsh Tiers area). Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren distribution and abundance has continued to diminish since 1993, largely due to the ecological breakdown resulting from earlier vegetation clearance (e.g. habitat loss, small population size, isolation) but also due to land-use impacts (e.g. stock grazing) and natural habitat changes.

• From 1993–2012, 19 populations of MLRSEW were lost and there was a 35% decline in naturally occupied areas, although overall range effectively remained unchanged. • In 2012, surveys found that only 16 of 54 previously known sites had MLRSEW. • 10 of the 16 known populations are found in swamps with nearly all on privately owned land. • Deep Creek Conservation Park holds the largest group of MLRSEW estimated to be around 100–250 mature individuals (in 2012).

populations are found in Fleurieu Swamps.

Key threats • Insufficient/poor habitat • Vegetation structural/species changes (including land-use and climate change impacts) • Wildfire • Small population size • Population/habitat isolation • Swamp hydrology changes (including land-use and climate change impacts) • Predation (relative importance of impacts uncertain, but potentially a major threat, especially to small populations).

Conservation status The Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren is listed as Endangered under the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) 1999 and the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, due to its restricted geographical range, severely fragmented population, decline in distribution/habitat and small population size.

A rare sighting of the secretive MLRSEW


A conservation

Saving a local icon

strategy since

A conservation strategy since 1994 has included a recovery plan to translocate some birds and rehabilitate habitat in swamp and heath areas of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

1994 has included a recovery plan to translocate some birds. Left: MLSREW wing feather detail

Habitat and population management methods include: • general education resources (e.g. newsletters, fact sheets, website) • habitat management guidelines • weed management advice and control • grazing management advice and fencing • site action plans for private landholders • habitat suitability manipulation trials (using fire)

• population reintroduction to Cox Scrub Conservation Park • new reserves, as direct initiative of recovery program (Stipiturus Conservation Park, Hesperilla Conservation Park, Gum Tree Gully Conservation Park, and several Heritage Agreement areas) • extensive input to external management plans (e.g. fire-management) • various research and monitoring projects • population studies • habitat studies (including external post-graduate projects) • habitat/population fire-response • population censuses.

Right: A MLSREW nest at Cox Scrub Conservation Park

The factsheet series Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

1

THE VALUE OF FLEURIEU

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

MANAGING

SWAMP WEEDS

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

2

Caring for our FLEURIEU SWAMPS

FACT

4

SHEET

HEALTHY

SWAMPS

FACT SHEET

3

MOUNT LOFTY RANGES

SOUTHERN EMU-WREN

Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc.  Strathalbyn Natural Resource Centre 6 Catherine Street Phone 08 8536 5612 PO Box 674 www.gwlap.org.au Strathalbyn SA 5255

Mt Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren and Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps Recovery Program Conservation Council of South Australia Level 1, 157 Franklin Street Phone 08 8223 5155 www.conservationsa.org.au Adelaide SA 5000

South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board  Murray Bridge Head Office Mannum Road Phone 08 8532 9100 PO Box 2343 www.samdbnrm.sa.gov.au Murray Bridge SA 5253

For further information

A GUIDE TO

SWAMPS

Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board  Willunga Regional Office Phone 08 8550 3400 5 Aldinga Road www.amlrnrm.sa.gov.au Willunga SA 5172

SHEET

Cover photo by Duade Paton. Other photos provided courtesy of the Goolwa-Wellington Local Action Planning Association Inc. and Conservation Council SA. Printed under an ISO 14001-certified EMS on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Creative consulting by Ecocreative <www.ecocreative.com.au>

Government of South Australia

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Fleurieu Swamp brochures  
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