Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lerista vittata (Mount Cooper Striped Lerista) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dt) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft Referral guidelines for the nationally listed Brigalow Belt reptiles (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011e) [Admin Guideline].
 
Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011m) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
QLD:Brigalow Belt bioregion: a biodiversity jewel (Threatened Species Network (TSN), 2008b) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Lerista vittata [1308]
Family Scincidae:Squamata:Reptilia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Greer, McDonald and Lawrie,1983
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Lerista vittata

Common name: Mount Cooper Striped Lerista

The Mount Cooper Striped Lerista is a pale grey or grey-brown reptile growing to 6.5 cm with faint, dark-brown flecks on the head and back, a broad, dark-brown stripe from snout to tail, whitish belly, absent forelimbs, single-digit hind limbs and 18 mid-body scale rows (Cogger 2000; Greer et al. 1983).

Lerista vittata was first described at Mount Cooper Station, approximately 80 km south-east of Chartyers Towers, Queensland. A second population has been tentatively identified approximately 100–200 km NNW of Hughenden on the Chudleigh Plateau. However, these specimens vary from the Mt Cooper specimens in colouration and appear to be geographically isolated. Further research and collections are required to determine whether the Mt Cooper and Chudleigh Plateau populations are conspecific or represent two distinct taxa (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Couper pers. comm. 2010). Four museum specimens were collected from Mount Cooper Station by Greer and collegues in 1983. Other specimens from Chudleigh Plateau (Kidston Dam, Blackbraes National Park and Gilberton Station) are tentatively identified as L. vittata.

The known distribution of the species is severely fragmented as a result of clearing mostly for agriculture. Populations are known to occur on freehold lands and in road reserves (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Important population

Given the difficulty in detecting this species, the Commonwealth environment department considers that an occurrence of important habitat for the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista is a surrogate for an ‘important population’ of the species. For a description of important habitat for the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista, refer to the Draft referral guidelines for the nationally listed Brigalow Belt reptiles.

Mount Cooper area

In the Mount Cooper area, south-west of Charters Towers, the species has been found in a variety of habitats. These include (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Cogger et al. 1993; Wilson & Knowles 1988):

  • Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra and E. melanophloia) and bloodwood (Corymbia clarksonia and C. intermedia) dominated woodland with shrub and/or grassy ground layers on deep red earths (QLD RE 11.5.9), undulating plains and steep hills on granitic rocks (QLD RE 9.12.1a)
  • Semi-Evergreen Vine Thicket (QLD RE 11.5.15), which extends onto areas of ironstone (duricrust)
  • Spinifex communities.

Four specimens identified in the Mt.Cooper area were found under leaf litter, loose soil under logs, and inside rotten logs in vegetation approximating semi-evergreen vine thicket (QLD RE 11.5.15) (Shea in Cogger et al. 1993). The soils observed at these recorded locations were deep, porous, coarse, yellow-red sandy soils on sandstone and adjacent to heavier, ironstone-based substrates (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Greer et al. 1983). A large proportion of semi-evergreen vine thicket and adjacent woodland communities (QLD RE 11.5.15) in the region has been cleared for agriculture. However, the species may be found in areas where regrowth of this vegetation type is currently mapped as cleared by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Einasleigh Uplands

Specimens found in the Einasleigh Uplands Bioregion, approximately 100–200 km NNW of Hughenden, have been found in vegetation approximating (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Cogger et al. 1993):

  • Cotton Tree (Cochlospermum gregorii)/Kapok Bush (Cochlospermum gillivaraei) dominated low woodland to low open woodland (QLD RE 9.12.36a)
  • Narrow-leafed Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra)/Inland Yellow-jacket (E. similis) dominated grassy, low open woodland on undulating plains and granitic rises (QLD RE 9.12.14)
  • Ironbark and Lemon-scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) dominated open forest, with a well-developed grassy understorey on red and yellow earths and sandy soils on the margins of high-altitude, sandstone plateaus (QLD RE 2.10.3)
  • Cloncurry Box (E. leucophylla), Inland Bloodwood (Corymbia terminalis) and Darwin Box (E. tectifica) dominated woodlands on flat sandy plains and deep yellow podzolic soils (QLD RE 2.5.10).

For more information on Queensland Regional Ecosystems, please visit the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management website at http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/biodiversity/regional_ecosystems/.

Occurrence in a nationally listed ecological community

The species is found in Semi-evergreen Vine Thickets of the Brigalow Belt (North and South) and Nandewar Bioregions, an ecological community listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 as Endangered.

Nothing is known about the life cycle or reproductive behaviour of the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Cogger et al. 1993).

Termites are a primary source of food for Lerista species in general (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Based on the habits of similar congeners, the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista is probably nocturnally active (DSEWPaC 2011m).

Species distinctiveness and detectability

Four other species of elongate-bodied, near limbless species of Lerista occur in northern Central Queensland. The Mount Cooper Striped Lerista (Lerista vittata), the Vine-thicket Fine-lined Slider (Lerista cinerea), the Nubbined Fine-lined Slider (Lerista colliveri), and theTwo-toed Fine-lined Slider (Lerista wilkinsi) all have front limbs absent or reduced to stumps, and two or fewer digits on each hindlimb. However, only the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista has a colour pattern that has a broad, dark, upper lateral band along the side of the body. The other species have a pattern of fine dark lines down the back and side of the body (Cogger 2000, cited in DSEWPaC 2011m).

Sampling and recording of observed specimens

Given the morphological similarities between the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista and Lerista cinerea, Lerista colliveri, and Lerista wilkinsi, potential records of the species should be supported by tissue samples and photo vouchers. These should be forwarded to the Queensland Museum for positive identification and data collation of the record (DSEWPaC 2011m).

Tissue sampling should only be undertaken with appropriate training in tissue preservation, ethics approval and State permits to collect samples. Where possible photo vouchers should include close-up colour shots of the limb areas, and the head, body and tail dorsally, ventrally and laterally. Dead specimens (e.g. roadkills) should be frozen and advice on preservation and lodgement sought from the Australian Museum or Queensland Museum (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; DSEWPaC 2011m).

Survey methods

Habitat assessment

A habitat assessment is recommended to be undertaken as a preliminary step to designing and undertaking a targeted survey, including:

  • Determine the proximity of nearest records to the study area.
  • Search relevant databases such as Zoology Data Search (Queensland Museum) and Wildlife Online (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management).
  • Obtain State vegetation mapping for the study area to determine the extent of suitable habitat including the presence of associated vegetation communities.
  • Determine the presence of suitable microhabitat features in the study area.

Targeted survey

Targeted surveys to confirm the presence/absence of the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista are done by actively searching suitable habitats (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Pitfall trapping is not considered as effective as hand-searching and should, therefore, be implemented as a supplementary survey technique. Where a longer survey period is possible, an artificial cover array (e.g. roof tiles, plywood squares, hay bales, etc.) may be worth trialing (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Optimal conditions for active searching

The species is more likely to be detected when conditions are warm, not too dry and maximum temperatures are greater than 25°C. Optimal survey times for active searching are early morning (two hours either side of dawn) and during the evening on warm nights (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; DSEWPaC 2011m).

Minimum survey effort

Sufficient time is required to thoroughly search the area by day and to spotlight by night. The minimum survey effort required includes (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010):

  • a minimum of three survey days and nights
  • at least one replicate survey employing all of the recommended techniques, if the species has not already been detected.

The key threatening processes for the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Cogger et al. 1993; Richardson 2006) are:

  • habitat clearing for agriculture and development
  • stock overgrazing
  • pasture improvement
  • intensive cropping
  • road upgrades or expansions.

Recovery planning and implementation

A recovery plan for the Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptiles, including the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista, was drafted by WWF-Australia in 2006 (Richardson 2006). The recovery actions outlined in this plan, and in the species profile on the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Queensland DERM 2010b), are as follows:

  • Encourage involvement, provide incentives and adopt a collaborative approach with government agencies, NRM regional bodies, the Indigenous community, key industry stakeholders and local governments to deliver region-specific information and implement sustained, effective recovery actions.
  • Identify research priorities, including the development and support of the implementation of research projects undertaken by tertiary and research institutions.
  • Inspect and identify suitable habitat for conservation of the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista.
  • Identify key threats and develop management guidelines to protect key habitat.
  • Maximize the establishment of appropriate reserves to protect Mount Cooper Striped Lerista habitat and landscape connectivity over the long term, for example, on stock route networks, road reserves and private lands.
  • Ensure Mount Cooper Striped Lerista conservation is incorporated into appropriate land management decisions made by all levels of government and industry.
  • Develop and provide land-management guidelines and incentives for landowners to reduce the impact of current land use practices on the species outside reserves.
  • Negotiate management agreements and voluntary conservation agreements with landholders, on whose land the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista occurs, in line with the recommended management guidelines.
  • Facilitate on ground projects to manage and protect habitats on a range of land tenures in line with recommended management guidelines, for example, in integrated weed and feral predator management programs.
  • Develop community awareness within the species' known range through media campaigns and education material and provide incentives for wider community involvement, for example, local governments and schools participating in reptile educational programs and adopting a local reptile species as their shire and/or school icon.
  • Implement recommended fire management guidelines in property and reserve designs.
  • Work with landholders and key stakeholders to undertake monitoring programs on selected sites.
  • Monitor and evaluate recovery actions, applying an adaptive management approach.

Mitigation measures or approaches that have been developed for the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista are (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010):

  • Alternative project locations.
  • Avoid clearing/ retain habitat.
  • Design proposed action to avoid habitat disturbance.
  • Establish adequate buffer zones to protect habitat.
  • Implement measures to exclude cattle from habitats.
  • Maintain habitat connectivity across the landscape, e.g., along roadside reserves.
  • Retain shelter habitat features in place.
  • Devise and implement a habitat management plan specific to the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista.
  • Implement measures to reduce the risk of invasive and predatory species accessing reptile habitat.
  • Devise and implement an appropriate fire management plan.
  • Devise and implement water management, sediment erosion and pollution control plans.

Management documents for the Mount Cooper Striped Lerista include:

  • Draft National Recovery Plan for the Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptiles (Richardson 2006).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles (Cogger, H.G., E.E. Cameron, R.A. Sadlier & P. Eggler, 1993) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Reptile diversity at risk in the Brigalow Belt, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 42(2):475-486. (Covacevich, J.A., P.J. Couper & K.R. McDonald, 1998) [Journal].
Lerista vittata in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006nd) [Internet].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lerista vittata (Mount Cooper Striped Lerista) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dt) [Conservation Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lerista vittata (Mount Cooper Striped Lerista) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008dt) [Conservation Advice].

Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop (2010). Proceedings from the workshop for the nine listed reptiles of the Brigalow Belt bioregions. 18-19 August. Brisbane: Queensland Herbarium.

Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia - 6th edition. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland.

Cogger, H.G., E.E. Cameron, R.A. Sadlier & P. Eggler (1993). The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/action/reptiles/index.html.

Couper, P.J. (2010). Personal Communication.

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011m). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 . [Online]. Canberra, ACT: DSEWPaC. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-reptiles.html.

Department of the Environment and Resource Management (DERM) (2010). Wildlife and Ecosystems- Mount Cooper Striped Lerista. [Online]. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/az_of_animals/mount_cooper_striped_lerista.html. [Online]. Department of the Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane. Available from: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/az_of_animals/mount_cooper_striped_lerista.html.

Greer, A.E., K.R. McDonald, & B.C. Lawrie (1983). Three new species of Lerista (Scincidae) from Northern Queensland with a diagnosis of the Wilkinsi species group. Journal of Herpetology. 17 (3):247-255. N/A.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2010). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Online]. Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org.

Richardson, R. (2006). Draft Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptile Recovery Plan 2008 - 2012. [Online]. Report to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Brisbane, Queensland: WWF-Australia. Available from: http://www.qmdc.org.au/publications/download/52/fact-sheets-case-studies/reptile-recovery/draft-reptile-recovery-plan.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008dt). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lerista vittata (Mount Cooper Striped Lerista). [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/1308-conservation-advice.pdf.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Lerista vittata in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 1 Oct 2014 02:00:16 +1000.