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Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area


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A presentation to a symposium of the Linnean Society of NSW in the Blue Mountains, 8th November 2019 by Judy Smith, Peter Smith and Kate Smith

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Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

  1. 1. Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Judy Smith Peter Smith P & J Smith Ecological Consultants Email: Kate Smith Email:
  2. 2. The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area
  3. 3. Covers over 1 million hectares or about one third the area of Belgium. Extends about 200 km south from the Hunter Valley to the Southern Tablelands. Extends 35 –100 km from Western Sydney and the Central Coast to the top of the Great Dividing Range.
  4. 4. The GBMWHA is within the traditional lands of the Darkinjung, Darug, Dharawal, Gundungurra, Wanaruah and Wiradjuri Aboriginal nations. It encompasses 8 conservation reserves: Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi and Yengo National Parks and Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve.
  5. 5. Our World Heritage listing recognises the area’s outstanding natural values, for example Eucalypt diversity (98 species) Iconic Wollemi Pine Eucalypt forests and woodlands and other plant communities
  6. 6. and also the fauna, which includes vertebrates and invertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic species
  7. 7. How many native terrestrial vertebrate species occur in the WHA?
  8. 8. We reviewed the following sources of information: Wildlife databases Published and unpublished reports NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service fauna surveys Bird and frog club newsletters Museum specimen records Naturalists records (our own and others) Wildlife carers records Writings of early explorers, travelers and guides Sub-fossil records from Jenolan Caves and found:
  9. 9. 432 native terrestrial vertebrate fauna species have been reliably recorded in the GBMWHA since European settlement: 68 mammals 254 birds 74 reptiles 36 frogs
  10. 10. The 254 birds include: • 61 bird families • 29 honeyeater species • 18 parrot species • 1/3 of all Australian birds
  11. 11. The 68 mammals include: • 2 monotremes • 1 platypus • 1 echidna • 29 marsupials • 8 dasyurids • 3 bandicoots • 1 koala • 1 wombat • 1 pygmy-possum • 3 wrist-winged gliders • 2 ringtail possum and greater glider • 1 feathertail glider (?2) • 2 brushtail possums (?3) • 2 potoroos and bettongs (?4) • 5 macropods • 37 placentals • 9 rodents • 27 bats • 1 dingo
  12. 12. The 74 reptiles include: • 1 freshwater turtle • 51 lizards • 5 dragon lizards • 5 geckos • 3 snake-lizards • 35 skinks • 3 goannas • 22 snakes • 1 python • 2 tree snakes • 16 front-fanged snakes • 3 blind snakes
  13. 13. The 36 frogs include: • 18 tree frogs • 10 southern ground frogs • 8 limnodynastid ground frogs • the last two families are unique to Australia
  14. 14. Where does each of the 432 species occur, when was it last recorded?
  15. 15. We compiled a checklist showing: - the reserves in which each species occurs - the date of the last record per reserve
  16. 16. Some species, like the Eastern Yellow Robin, are represented by more than one subspecies. The identity of some species in the GBMWHA is still uncertain – we do not know if this possum is a Mountain Brushtail Possum or a Short-eared Brushtail Possum (need measurements). It is not the widespread Common Brushtail Possum.
  17. 17. Every species in the GBMWHA is intrinsically valuable. We also have many species with special conservation significance: 73 species are listed as threatened at national or state level including: 28 mammals 34 birds 4 reptiles 7 frogs 12 bird species are protected under international migratory bird agreements (BONN Convention, CAMBA, JAMBA and ROKAMBA)
  18. 18. An extraordinarily high number of species within the GBMWHA are at the edge of their range and contribute substantially to the genetic variability of their species. These include • 1/3 of the mammals (20 species) • 1/10 of the birds (29 species not including vagrants) • 1/2 of the reptiles (37 species) • 3/4 of the frogs (25 species)
  19. 19. Why is there such outstanding faunal diversity in the World Heritage Area? Vast area; lots of wilderness; diverse fauna habitats in close proximity with varied elevations, microclimates, geologies, soils, topographies and fire histories; influenced by surrounding more fertile lands. Location at convergence of • Moist coastal areas to the east • Dry western slopes • Cold southern tablelands • Warm northern sub-tropics
  20. 20. Examples of trends in the fauna • For 25 species we could find no recent (post-1999) records • 9 mammals are probably now locally extinct • The 6 frogs most closely associated with rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest are all now rare • Recent decliners include the threatened Greater Glider and Flame Robin and the not yet threatened Dusky Antechinus and Pink-tongued Lizard • Recent increasers include the threatened Powerful Owl and Sooty Owl and the unthreatened Bar-shouldered Dove and Australian Brush-turkey
  21. 21. In October 2019 we published a book about the native fauna of the GBMWHA Judy, Peter and Kate Smith
  22. 22. Conclusion The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is home to a remarkably diverse native terrestrial vertebrate fauna of international significance, about which there is still a lot to learn. There is much to celebrate next year on the 20th anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage listing (29 November 2000).