Terrestrial plant and animal species: Threatened species lists

2016

Threatened species lists

As at December 2015, a total of 480 fauna species (terrestrial and aquatic) were listed under the EPBC Act, including 55 that are listed as extinct or extinct in the wild. This reflects an overall increase of 44 species since 2011 (Figure BIO13). The number of nationally listed threatened species has increased for all animal taxa except amphibians. The overall number of plant species listed has increased only slightly during the past 5 years. A large number of delistings, primarily because of changes in taxonomic understanding, occurred in 2013.

The overall number of mammal species listed increased by 8 during the past 5 years (Figure BIO14). Christmas Island flying fox (Pteropus melanotus natalis) was added to the critically endangered category, and Leadbeater’s possum was uplisted from endangered to critically endangered since 2011. Seven new species were added to the endangered species category, and 4 new species were assessed as vulnerable (see Box BIO6). Two species were delisted (northern and southern marsupial moles—Notoryctes caurinus and N. typhlops). These changes can be attributed to the publication of The action plan for Australian mammals 2012, which enabled more efficient assessment of mammal listings.

The number of threatened bird species has increased by 15 species; the number of critically endangered bird species increased by 7. Four species were uplisted to critically endangered since 2011: regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia), helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) and western ground parrot (Pezoporus flaviventris) were uplisted from endangered to critically endangered, and plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) was uplisted from vulnerable to critically endangered.

Although the number of listed amphibian species remained the same, 2 species (northern corroboree frog—Pseudophryne pengilleyi and Kroombit tinker frog—Taudactylus pleione) were uplisted from vulnerable to critically endangered based on new information about their vulnerability to extinction. In addition, southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) was uplisted from endangered to critically endangered.

As at December 2015, 1294 plant species were listed, including 37 species that are listed as extinct in the wild. In 2011, 1289 species were listed (Figure BIO15). The number of species listed in the critically endangered category has increased by 31. The numbers of species in the endangered and vulnerable categories have decreased because of delistings, and uplistings to critically endangered.

The highest numbers of listed plant and animal species are found in the south-west of Western Australia and in south-eastern Australia (Figure BIO16). The current and historical intensity of pressures in these areas is relatively high. Relatively high numbers of critically endangered species also occur in Cape York Peninsula. The distribution of different taxa that are listed and critically endangered taxa shows some variation; this is explored further in the following taxa-specific sections.

Jurisdictional reporting on threatened species and communities

Jurisdictions report on key trends in threatened species and communities. Most jurisdictions report ongoing declines in the distribution and abundance of threatened flora and fauna. Confidence in threatened species trends is limited; monitoring generally focuses on a small number of species in specific locations.

Australian Capital Territory
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • Most threatened flora and fauna are declining, including the vulnerable brown treecreeper, glossy black cockatoo and scarlet robin, and the endangered regent honeyeater, grassland earless dragon and northern corroboree frog.
    • There have been increases in recordings of the vulnerable hooded robin, superb parrot and white-winged triller, and the endangered Brindabella midge orchid, Canberra spider orchid and Tarengo leek orchid.
    • Management has improved the extent and condition of many threatened ecological communities.
    • More than half (55 per cent) of the territory’s entire land area is protected in the National Reserve System.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • Extent and condition of threatened flora and fauna: status—poor to very poor; trend—deteriorating.
    • Extent and condition of threatened ecological communities: status—poor; trend—improving.
New South Wales
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • The number of species considered at risk of extinction continues to rise.
    • Twenty-one additional species and 1 additional ecological community have been listed as threatened since 2012.
    • Eight species and 7 ecological communities have been upgraded to a higher threat status, because of increased extinction risk or an ongoing review of the schedules since the critically endangered category was legislated in 2005.
    • One species, black-throated finch, has been declared extinct in New South Wales, not having been sighted since 1994.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • Number of threatened species, communities and populations: status—poor; trend—increasing impact; information availability for assessing the state and trend of this indicator—reasonable.
    • There have been no updates on the decline in terrestrial vertebrate species since 2010, and limited information is currently available to understand the overall status.
    • Limited information is readily available to understand the overall status and trends for threatened species.
    • Specific monitoring of the site-based response of threatened species to conservation actions will occur under the New South Wales Government’s Saving our Species program.
Queensland
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • The number of fauna species listed as threatened (vulnerable, endangered or extinct in the wild) increased by 61 between 2007 and 2015.
    • Three frog species have been listed as extinct in the wild.
    • Most western Queensland bioregions remained as remnant vegetation in 2013; however, significant areas of fauna habitat have been cleared in the fragmented eastern bioregions.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • Number of threatened species, communities and populations: status—fair; trend—increasing impact; information availability for assessing the status and trend of this indicator—reasonable.
    • There is no broad strategy or framework to monitor the conservation status of species; limited information is readily available to understand the overall status and trend for threatened species.
Victoria
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • The conservation status of many threatened vertebrate species continues to decline.
    • The conservation status of 33 vertebrate species worsened between 2007 and 2013, 8 improved and 3 were taken off the list; 13 species were added to the Advisory List of Rare and Threatened Vertebrate Fauna.
    • The eastern barred bandicoot became extinct in the wild in Victoria.
    • As at 2009, 1 invertebrate species and another 5 vertebrate species had become extinct in Victoria.
    • Expert opinion indicates a decline in the status of plant species.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • Threatened species in Victoria: status—poor; trend—deteriorating; confidence in the assessment grade—fair.
    • There remain many species whose population trend is inconclusive or unclear.
    • Conservation of Victorian ecosystems and species: status—fair; trend—improving.
    • Because of information gaps, the current number of threatened species is likely to be vastly under-reported for invertebrates.
South Australia
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • There has been a net increase in the number of endangered and vulnerable species and ecological communities since 2008.
    • Twenty-three plant and animal species have been nationally listed as threatened with extinction in the past 5 years.
    • Five ecological communities have been listed as threatened in the past 5 years.
    • There has been an increase in recovery plans and actions.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • Threatened species and ecological communities: status—poor; trend—deteriorating. Changes in the extent of threatened ecological communities have not been recorded since they were listed.
    • Regional trends in the number of plants and animals listed as threatened: trend—deteriorating (NRM report card).
    • Natural resource managers monitor the distribution and abundance of around 29 per cent of threatened plants and 38 per cent of threatened animals; for these plants and animals, monitoring programs are in place in all NRM regions where they have been recorded.
Western Australia
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • There has been a net increase in the number of threatened species (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable) since 2007, and a decrease in the total number of threatened fauna species by 2 in 2015. Ten species were removed from the list of threatened fauna in 2015. There was an increase of 3 threatened flora species in 2015.
    • No legislative mechanism is in place to protect threatened ecological communities, so they are currently listed under policy (new legislation was introduced to the Western Australian Parliament in late 2015 to remedy this).
    • There is ongoing listing of broadscale threatened ecological communities under the EPBC Act, covering significant areas of remnant vegetation in the south-west.
    • The number of species and ecological communities with recovery plans has increased.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • There is generally good information on status for most threatened species and communities.
    • Information on trends is variable, depending on the species or community.
    • The ability to monitor fauna decreases if numbers drop to low levels.
    • Western Australia is refining location and condition data for threatened ecological communities that were recently listed under the EPBC Act.
    • Although significant funding for monitoring and research is provided through development project offsets, much is directed to specific species in specific locations for set time periods.
Tasmania
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • Extinction risks for most threatened species in Tasmania may be increasing because of ongoing threats, increasing pressures from climate change and the need for targeted recovery work.
    • Tasmania lists 39 ecological vegetation communities as threatened. No change in status has been recorded for the reporting period.
    • Since 2009, 5 additional flora species have been listed under the EPBC Act, 4 have been delisted, 3 have been uplisted and 3 have been downlisted; 38 additional fauna species have been listed and 4 have been uplisted.
    • Four of the 5 new flora listings under the EPBC Act were for species on Macquarie Island; the introduced rabbit—one of the key threats to the vegetation on the island—has been eradicated in the interim. The trajectory of these 4 species is as yet unknown.
    • Four new ecological communities of relevance to Tasmania have been listed under the EPBC Act since 2009: Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens, Lowland Native Grasslands of Tasmania, Giant Kelp Marine Forests of South East Australia, and Subtropical and Temperate Coastal Saltmarsh.
    • Since 2009, 14 additional flora species have been listed under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995, 12 have been delisted, 6 have been uplisted, and 8 have been downlisted; 1 fauna species have been downlisted and 2 has been uplisted.
    • Some species are awaiting gazettal: flora—13 new listings, 15 delistings, 2 downlistings and 4 uplistings; fauna—2 new listings and 1 uplisting.
    • Since 2009, a further 4 per cent of Tasmania’s native vegetation has been added to the National Reserve System in Tasmania, culminating in 54.5 per cent of native vegetation being reserved in 2015.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • Tasmania manages a large World Heritage Area, as well as threatened vegetation communities and a large list of threatened species. Monitoring during the period has focused on the values within the World Heritage Area, as well as priority threatened species (particularly the orange-bellied parrot and the Tasmanian devil). The most comprehensive assessment of the maugean skate has also been undertaken during the past 5 years. For many other species, however, there has been limited monitoring work, and our current understanding of populations is limited.
    • A systematic review of the status of species listed under the EPBC Act and the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 has not been undertaken since 2009.
    • The majority of flora delistings and downlistings since 2009 have arisen because of an improvement in information, coupled, in some instances, with an improvement in reservation status. Four flora species listed as presumed extinct under the Threatened Species Protection Act have been rediscovered since 2009.
Northern Territory
  • Key trends in threatened species and communities:
    • In 2007, 188 Northern Territory species were listed as threatened under territory or Australian legislation (and an additional 15 species were considered extinct in the Northern Territory). In 2015, 219 territory species were listed as threatened under either piece of legislation.
    • Changes to the threat status of species in the Northern Territory have been greater than indicated by this increase in listings. In a review of species listed as threatened under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act in 2011–12, 44 species were added to the list, 13 species were removed from the list, 12 species on the list had increasing conservation concern, and 4 species on the list had decreasing conservation concern.
    • Most of these changes result from taxonomic revisions and improved data on distribution and abundance, which have clarified speciesconservation status. Approximately 20 per cent of changes reflect documented negative trends in speciesextent and/or abundance, and a much smaller proportion reflect observed recovery.
    • The most notable negative trend is in the conservation status of many small mammal species in the north of the Northern Territory, where multiple lines of evidence indicate significant recent declines, including a reduction of 75 per cent in mammal site richness in 1 systematic monitoring program. Consequently, 7 mammal species occurring in the north of the territory have been added to the EPBC Act threatened species list since 2005.
    • Only 1 threatened ecological community is listed under the EPBC Act in the Northern Territory.
  • Assessment grade and adequacy of information:
    • The conservation status of all territory species under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act is being reviewed in 2016. This review will include implementation of a common assessment method to improve consistency in threatened species listing across all Australian jurisdictions.
    • Although systematic regional or community-level monitoring programs have been important in revealing the extent of small mammal decline, there are detailed quantitative data for trends in abundance for only a small proportion of threatened species in the Northern Territory.
    • The conservation status of most invertebrate groups is very poorly known.
A photo of a eastern barred bandicoot near some shrub.

A photo of a eastern barred bandicoot near some shrub.

The eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii) is a small nocturnal marsupial that was once common in south-eastern Australia, but has been severely impacted by clearing and introduced predators. It is listed as endangered nationally, and the mainland subspecies is now extinct in the wild. It has been listed as one of 20 priority mammals identified for action under the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy

Cresswell ID, Murphy H (2016). Biodiversity: Terrestrial plant and animal species: Threatened species lists. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/theme/biodiversity/topic/2016/terrestrial-plant-and-animal-species-threatened-species-lists, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65ac828812