Lost in time and space: re-assessment of conservation status in an arid-zone flora through targeted field survey

Silcock, J. L., Healy, A. J. and Fensham, R. J. (2015) Lost in time and space: re-assessment of conservation status in an arid-zone flora through targeted field survey. Australian Journal of Botany, 62 8: 674-688. doi:10.1071/BT14279

Author Silcock, J. L.
Healy, A. J.
Fensham, R. J.
Title Lost in time and space: re-assessment of conservation status in an arid-zone flora through targeted field survey
Journal name Australian Journal of Botany   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0067-1924
Publication date 2015-03-26
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/BT14279
Open Access Status
Volume 62
Issue 8
Start page 674
End page 688
Total pages 15
Place of publication Clayton, VIC Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Lack of basic data to assess plant species against IUCN Red List criteria is a major impediment to assigning accurate conservation status throughout large areas of the world. Erroneous assessments will be most prevalent in vast poorly surveyed areas where herbarium collections are sparse. In arid environments, assessments are further confounded by extreme temporal variability and poor understanding of the nature and magnitude of threats. We systematically re-assess the conservation status of an arid-zone flora. The status of all 1781 vascular plant species occurring across 635 300 km2 of inland eastern Australia was initially assessed through herbarium records and expert interviews. This process generated a list of apparently rare and potentially threatened species, which guided a targeted survey program over 4 years. Search effort and key data on populations of candidate species found were recorded and used to assess 91 species against IUCN criteria. One-third of species were widespread and abundant at least in certain seasons, but had been deemed rare due to sparse collections. The conservation status of 20, mostly newly recognised species from restricted habitats, was upgraded and 14 remained listed because of having restricted areas of occupancy. With the exception of 12 artesian spring species, continuing declines were documented for just six species. The criterion that allows for listing of species because of extreme fluctuations (in combination with restricted and fragmented populations) needs to be carefully interpreted in arid zones, where these fluctuations may be apparent rather than real, and may actually confer resilience to grazing for some species. Our approach facilitates robust conservation assessments across vast and poorly known arid regions, distinguishing species that have merely been lost in space and time from those that are at risk of extinction.
Keyword Conservation assessment
Red list
Red list assessments
Spring wetlands
Sighting record
Extinction risk
Species lists
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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