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 as Bertya opponens
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Recovery Plan for the Bertya sp. (Cobar-Coolabah) - July 2002 (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2002m) [Recovery Plan] as Bertya opponens.
 
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] as Bertya sp. Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n. 2/8/73).
 
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Bertya opponens.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Flora Schedules: Recommendations to the Scientific Committee: Final Summary Report December 2002 (Hogbin, P., 2002) [Report].
NSW:Bertya opponens - profile (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW OEH), 2014) [State Species Management Plan].
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Schedules 2007-2009 (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2009b) [State Species Management Plan].
NSW:Bertya opponens - vulnerable species listing - final determination (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2009c) [State Species Management Plan].
QLD:Bertya opponens (Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (Qld DEHP), 2013k) [State Species Management Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Bertya opponens
Scientific name Bertya opponens [13792]
Family Euphorbiaceae:Euphorbiales:Magnoliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (Benth.) Guymer
Infraspecies author  
Reference Guymer, G.P., (1985) A name change in the genus Bertya (Euphorbiaceae). Austrobaileya 2(2): 147 [comb. nov.]
Other names Bertya oppositifolia [22447]
Bertya sp. Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n. 2/8/73) [64552]
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

New South Wales (NSW): Bertya opponens was previously listed as B. sp. A Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n., 2/8/73) and a 2009 review of threatened species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 relisted the latter as two entities: Bertya opponens (listed as vulnerable) and Bertya sp. Clouds Creek (listed as endangered) (NSW SC 2009b).

A taxonomic revision of the genus Bertya by Halford and Henderson (2002 cided in NSW SC 2009c) considered that plants from NSW previously referred to as B. sp. A (James & Harden 1990 cited in NSW SC 2009c) (i.e. B. sp. Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorpe s.n. 2/8/73)) were in fact B. opponens. This broad circumscription of B. opponens included plants from western NSW (e.g. Cobar, Coolabah and Narrabri) as well as several disjunct populations east of the Great Dividing Range (e.g. Gibraltar Range and Kangaroo Creek State Forest). The Bertya sp. Cobar-Coolabah (Cunningham & Milthorp s.n. 2/8/73) Recovery Plan (NSW NPWS 2002m) only considered the populations occurring in western NSW and north-east NSW, the latter are now considered another, undescribed species (NSW SC 2009c).

Recent taxonomic research (Fatemi et al. 2007 cited in NSW SC 2009c) has confirmed that the Cobar, Coolabah and Narrabri populations are typical B. opponens but the populations east of the Great Dividing Range are in fact a new, undescribed species closely related to B. opponens and currently known as B. sp. (Clouds Creek M. Fatemi 4) (NSW SC 2009c).

Bertya opponens is a slender shrub to 4 m tall. It may be multi-stemmed or have a single trunk 70-90 mm in width. The branches and stems are densely covered with whitish to brown intertwined hairs. The thick leaves are smooth and dark green above and covered in velvety hairs below and are mostly arranged in pairs along the stems. The leaves measure 10-80 mm long by 5-25 mm wide and the margins are curved under. The yellow-brown flowers appear during July and August and are followed by rounded seed capsules 8-9 mm long which contain two to three seeds (NSW OEH 2014). The species has considerable variation in its habit, particularly between the northern and southern (i.e. Morven, Surat (Queensland) and New South Wales) populations (Halford & Henderson 2002 cited in Qld DEHP 2013k).

Bertya opponens occurs in Queensland and NSW. In Queensland it is widely distributed within an area bounded by Emerald in the north and Charleville in the west, with an outlier near Charters Tower (ALA 2013). In NSW it occurs in the Pilliga Scrub and north-east of Cobar (NSW OEH 2014). The species is currently known from two locations in NSW (NSW SC 2009b):

  • Nurrungal (formerly Elmore Station) north-east of Cobar, 500-600 plants in poor condition
  • Jacks Creek State Forest south of Narrabri with at least 5 000 000 plants and a second population of five plants 12 km to the north-west.

A second population was near Cobar was known in 1982, but was not relocated in 1999 (NSW SC 2009b). This population’s extinction may be attributable to a decade of continual drought followed by a large bushfire (Miller pers. comm. cited in NSW NPWS 2002m).

Bertya opponens has been recorded growing in a variety of community types including mixed shrubland, lancewood woodland, mallee woodland, eucalypt/acacia open forest with shrubby understorey, eucalypt/callitris open woodland and semi-evergreen vine-thicket (Qld DEHP 2013k). The soils are recorded as generally shallow sandy loams or red earths associated mostly with sandstone, but also with rhyolite, shale and metasediments (Qld DEHP 2013k). In NSW, the soils are recorded as shallow and rocky or much deeper and well-drained (NSW SC 2009b).

Associated species include (NSW SC 2009b; Qld DEHP 2013k):

  • woodland with Lemon-scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) and Chain Fruit (Alyxia spicata);
  • Yellow Jacket (Corymbia leichhardtii) woodland with some Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) on sandstone;
  • sheltered sandstone gully with Lancewood (Acacia shirleyi), Lemon-scented Gum, White Bloodwood (Corymbia trachyphloia) and Razor Grass (Gahnia aspera);
  • woodland of Gympie Messmate (Eucalyptus cloeziana), with E. suffulgens and Black Cypress Pine (Callitris endlicheri);
  • Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) /White Bloodwood tall woodland;
  • open woodland of Queensland Peppermint (Eucalyptus exserta), Tumbledown Ironbark (Eucalyptus panda) and White Bloodwood on lateritic sandstone;
  • mallee community dominated by Green Mallee (Eucalyptus viridis), Grey Mallee (Eucalyptus morrisii) and White Cypress-pine (Callitris glaucophylla) on shallow red earth on a mallee ridge;
  • taller eucalypt woodland with a well-developed shrub layer dominated by Baradine Gum (Eucalyptus chloroclada), Narrow-leaved Ironbark, White Cypress-pine and White Bloodwood on deep sand.

Flowering has been recorded from June to August. Pollen is probably dispersed by wind, but European honey-bees have been observed visiting the flowers. Flowering observed in 2002 was prolific in the Jacks Creek State Forest population, perhaps because it was so healthy or due to above average rainfall during the study period (NSW NPWS 2002m).

Herbarium records suggest that Bertya opponens is long-lived, surviving for more than 26 years. Austen (1999 cited in NSW SC 2009b) notes that populations may need some form of disturbance to stimulate recruitment (e.g. fire or physical disturbance such as that associated with earthworks). Prolific regrowth of plants in the Jacks Creek State Forest population occurred after the adjacent fire-break was graded suggesting that the species resprouts from the roots following disturbance (NSW NPWS 2002m). Most plants of B. opponens are believed to be killed by fire although wildfires may increase the rate of germination from the seed bank (NSW SC 2009b).

Threats to Bertya opponens include grazing, inappropriate disturbance and fire regimes, clearing and drought (NSW NPWS 2002m). The geographic distribution of the species is highly restricted and it is prone to the effects of human activities or stochastic events within a very short time period (Qld DEHP 2013k).

Intense grazing has only been observed at the Nurrungal population where feral goats (Capra hircus) have been observed grazing coppiced stems and lower branches and may be responsible for the lack of seedlings (NSW NPWS 2002m).

Some disturbance regimes may encourage germination and benefit the species (NSW NPWS 2002m). Frequent fires on the public estates south of the Jacks Creek population may be a threat (Qld DEHP 2013k). Inappropriate fire regimes include frequent, low intensity fire, as well as the total absence of high intensity fires in ecotones (Boyes 2002 cited in Qld DEHP 2013k).

The National Recovery Plan for the Bertya sp. (Cobar-Coolabah) identifies a number of recovery actions for the species. These actions include (NSW NPWS 2002m):

  • protect the Coolabah (Nurrungal) population
  • carry out further surveys
  • investigate levels of recruitment in populations, germination and seed dormancy mechanisms
  • raise awareness of the species in the community.

Other recommended actions include (NSW OEH 2014):

  • Assist with feral goat control in areas of habitat.
  • Manage fire to promote regeneration.
  • Apply an appropriate fire prescription for the Jacks Creek population.
  • Identify roadside populations and protect during road and fire trail construction and maintenance works.
  • Remove weeds in known and potential habitat.
  • Protect known populations and areas of potential habitat from clearing, fragmentation or disturbance.
  • Report any new sightings to relevant agencies.

Documents relevant to the management of Bertya opponens can be found at the start of the profile.

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 Bertya opponensin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cc) [Internet].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Bertya opponensin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cc) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat loss, modification and degradation due to timber harvesting Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Droughts:Drought Bertya opponensin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cc) [Internet].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human induced disturbance due to unspecified activities Bertya opponensin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cc) [Internet].
Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Capra hircus (Goat) Bertya opponensin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cc) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity) Northern Rivers Regional Biodiversity Management Plan (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2010p) [State Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate fire regimes including natural wildfires Bertya opponensin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006cc) [Internet].

Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) (2013). Atlas of Living Australia. [Online]. Available from: http://www.ala.org.au/.

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (2002m). Recovery Plan for the Bertya sp. (Cobar-Coolabah) - July 2002. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/bertya-sp/index.html.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW OEH) (2014). Bertya opponens - profile. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10093.

NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC) (2009b). Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Schedules 2007-2009. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/committee/TSCActSchedulesReview.htm.

NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC) (2009c). Bertya opponens - vulnerable species listing - final determination. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/determinations/bertyaopponensFD.htm.

Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (Qld DEHP) (2013k). Bertya opponens. [Online]. Available from: http://wetlandinfo.ehp.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/components/species/?bertya-opponens.

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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). Bertya opponens in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Fri, 11 Jul 2014 02:57:21 +1000.