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 Eleocharis papillosa (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afv) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Eleocharis papillosa (Dwarf Desert Spike-rush) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2012ae) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (43) (14/08/2006) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006g) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NT:Wetlands in the arid Northern Territory. A report to Environment Australia on the inventory and significance of wetlands in the arid NT (Duguid, A., J. Barnetson, B. Clifford, C. Pavey, D. Albrecht, J. Risler & M. McNellie, 2005) [Report].
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory-Dwarf Desert Spike-rush Eleocharis papillosa (Duguid, A., R. Kerrigan, D. Albrecht & R. Baker, 2006) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NT: Listed as Vulnerable (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012 list)
SA: Listed as Rare (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): Rare species: June 2011 list)
Non-statutory Listing Status
WA: Listed as P3 (Priority Flora and Priority Fauna List (Western Australia): April 2014 list)
Scientific name Eleocharis papillosa [2519]
Family Cyperaceae:Cyperales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Latz
Infraspecies author  
Reference Latz, P.K. (1979) Four new species of Cyperaceae from Central Australia. Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens 1(6): 343, fig. 1 [tax. nov.]
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
http://www.nretas.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/10968/Eleocharis_papillosa_VU.pdf

Scientific name: Eleocharis papillosa

Common name: Dwarf Desert Spike-rush.

This species is conventionally accepted (CHAH 2010).

The Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is a small erect perennial sedge, typically less than 10 cm high. The above-ground parts grow in response to inundation or flooding, and subsequently die back to tubers. The leaf sheaths are purplish in colour at the base (Duguid et al. 2006).

Distribution

The Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is known from eight locations in the Northern Territory (NT), ranging from the northern Tanami Desert to the southern parts of the Finke bioregion and the edge of the Simpson Desert (Holtze 2005; White et al. 2000). Most locations are remote, and repeated collections have been made at only three of the eight known locations (Duguid et al. 2006). Widespread targeted surveys have occurred in the NT. As a result, and it is unlikely that there are many undiscovered populations (Duguid et al. 2006). The NT sites occur on: Aboriginal freehold land (the Lander River, Rabbit Flat area and Lake Mackay populations); pastoral leasehold (three stations); and crown land (Illparpa population) (Duguid et al. 2006).

In South Australia (SA), the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is known from three locations in Lake Eyre area. It is also indicated to occur in the Gairdner-Torrens regions of inland SA (Barker et al. 2005a), however this is not substantiated by either the SA Herbarium records or Department of Environment and Heritage records (SA DEH 2007).

In Western Australia (WA), the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is found at two locations in the Murchison area, east of Geraldton, and the Avon region, north-west of Kalgoorlie (Florabase 2007a). There are also reports from the Pilbara, but there are no vouchered specimens from this region (TSSC 2010ay).

Extent of occurrence and area of occupancy

Estimates on the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush's extent of occurrence are: 230 000 km2 in the NT based on a north-south range of 600 km and an east-west range of 560 km (TSSC 2006jm); and 32 000 km2 in SA (SA DEH 2007).

In the NT, the area of occupancy for the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is not known due to a lack of detailed vegetation mapping. A rough estimate of the habitat area of known populations is 2–50 km2 (Duguid et al. 2004 cited in TSSC 2006jm).

Fragmentation

In the NT, the distribution of the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is considered severely fragmented (Duguid et al. 2006) based on six highly disjunct areas. As four of the eight collection locations are pairs of sites relatively close to each other, these sites correspond to six disjunct locations (Duguid et al. 2006).

In SA, the three populations within the Lake Eyre basin are connected via the watercourses that flow into the lake. However, it is extremely unlikely that any actual interchange of genetic material would occur along these channels. All populations are also separated by large areas of unsuitable sandy habitat (SA DEH 2007).

Due to the Dwarf Desert-rush's small size and the intermittent presence of surface shoots, it is likely to be under surveyed and additional populations may exist. In the NT, searches at Illparpa Swamp in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, following two particularly wet summers (1999–2000 and 2000–2001), failed to find the species (Duguid et al. 2006). A survey of NT wetlands in 2000–2001 (Duguid et al. 2002), in apparently ideal conditions, found only one new population. Likewise, a systematic survey of wetlands was conducted in 2000–2001 at more than 400 field sites across the southern part of the NT, but failed to discover any additional populations (Duguid et al. 2005).

In SA, surveys have been conducted by the Department of Environment and Heritage during the Stony Deserts botanical survey. None of the surveys recorded this species (Brandle 1998).

The Dwarf Desert Spike-rush has been recorded as locally abundant (with up to 1000 plants) during some periods at some sites (Duguid et al. 2006). There has been no quantitative abundance assessment of the species. Undertaking such an assessment would be difficult because the species occurs in a number of disjunct locations, it is cryptic (hard to find) and above-ground growth is highly ephemeral (periodic and unpredictable shooting). In addition, the species' clonal nature, with extensive rhizomatous systems (long reaching, underground horizontal stems), makes abundance estimates difficult (Duguid et al. 2006).

Most Dwarf Desert Spike-rush locations are remote, and repeated collections have been made at only three of them (Illparpa Swamp, Casuarina Swamp and Stirling Swamp). There is strong evidence that the population at Illparpa Swamp has declined in the past decade as a result of weed infestation and altered hydrology. The species was last recorded there in 1998 (TSSC 2006jm). The population in the Burt Plain bioregion is also being encroached on by Couch Grass (Cynodon dactylon), which could result in local extinction (Duguid et al. 2006).

All records of the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush are from ephemeral (temporary) wetlands, predominantly freshwater and semi-saline swamps, but one record is from the edge of a ephemeral riverine waterhole (Duguid et al. 2006). The species has been recorded growing in the open as well as under shrubs that are likely to provide protection from trampling by stock (Duguid et al. 2006). In NT, it has been recorded growing in plant communities dominated by Coolabah (Eucalyptus coolabah), Samphire (Halosarcia spp.), Northern Bluebush (Chenopodium auricomum) and Eragrostis spp. including Swamp Canegrass (E. australasica) (Duguid et al. 2006). In SA, it has been recorded in association with Coolabah, Cyperus spp. and Munumula (Acacia stenophylla) (SA DEH 2007).

During dry times, populations of the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush persist as soil-stored seed or soil-stored root tubers (Duguid et al. 2006).

The Dwarf Desert Spike-rush is recorded as flowering and fruiting throughout the year, however seed set has not been observed for the species at Illparpa Swamp, the most frequently visited location. Cultivated greenhouse plants from Illparpa, with constant water conditions, have also 'failed' to set seed. However, herbarium specimens from other locations have seeded, indicating that sexual reproduction may occur in some populations, or under specific conditions (Duguid et al. 2006).

Asexual reproduction is significant in some populations, such as that at Illparpa, where seeding has not been observed despite relatively frequent inspection. Therefore, the actual number of genetically different individuals in a meta-population may be substantially less than initially appears (Duguid et al. 2006).

Dwarf Desert Spike-rush plants with constant water conditions (at the Alice Springs Desert Park Nursery) exhibit an annual die-off of the above ground shoots. It is not known what controls this but age, season and cold are all possible factors. These plants subsequently resprout. Informal trials indicate that resprouting can occur from the tuberoids after they have been stored in dry conditions (Collins pers. comm. cited in Duguid et al. 2006).

Growth, seeding and germination of the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush are thought to occur in response to temporary inundation (Duguid et al. 2006), thus, surveys should occur after rainfall.

The majority of SA records are from April, with other records from July and September, so it would appear that surveys carried out during autumn and following significant rainfall would have the best chance of finding this species (SA DEH 2007).

Invasion of Dwarf Desert Spike-rush habitat by Couch Grass has been extensive at Illparpa Swamp, is well advanced at Stirling Swamp and has the potential to invade all sites (TSSC 2006jm). Trampling of the species by stock occurs at some sites, but the long-term effect is unknown. It has been noted that at Casuarina Swamp the species was only growing under bushes where plants were protected from trampling (Duguid et al. 2006). Hydrological change has also been identified as a threat (TSSC 2006jm).

There are no known threats in SA (Badman 1999) or Western Australia (WA).

The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2008afv) recommends the following priority recovery and threat abatement actions for the conservation of the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush:

  • Monitor the eight currently known populations to determine the ongoing trend in population numbers.
  • Appropriate weed management at the eight known locations.
  • Fencing of known populations, where possible, to protect the species from trampling by stock.

In addition, Duguid and colleagues (2006) suggest management plans should include the monitoring of all known populations, monitoring of the spread of Couch Grass, and an assessment of the feasibility of controlling Couch Grass in swamp environments.

An inventory of wetlands in the arid NT (south of 20° latitude) was conducted in 2000 and 2001, in apparently ideal conditions (Duguid et al. 2002). The Dwarf Desert Spike-rush was re-recorded at a previously known site and one new site was recorded. The inventory did not involve targeted surveys of individual species or detailed ecological studies (Duguid et al. 2006).

The Dwarf Desert Spike-rush was also included in a study of the species and sites of significance in the southern bioregions of the NT (White et al. 2000).

No management plans have been documented for the Dwarf Desert Spike-rush. However, Duguid and colleagues (2006) and the Threatened Species Scientific Committee Conservation Advice (2008afv) provide brief management recommendations.

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:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Habitat alteration (vegetation, soil, hydrology) due to trampling and grazing by livestock Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Eleocharis papillosa (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afv) [Conservation Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Eleocharis papillosa (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006jm) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Cynodon dactylon (Couch, Couch Grass, Green Couch, Bermuda Grass) Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Eleocharis papillosa (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afv) [Conservation Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Listing Advice on Eleocharis papillosa (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006jm) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality Commonwealth Listing Advice on Eleocharis papillosa (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2006jm) [Listing Advice].

Badman F.J. (1999). Vegetation. Lake Eyre South Monograph Series. 2(1). Adelaide: Royal Geographic Society of South Australia Incorporated.

Barker, W.R., R.M. Barker, J.P. Jessop & H.P. Vonow, eds. (2005). Census of South Australian Vascular Plants, 5th edition. In: Journal of the Adelaide Botanical Gardens Supplement 1. [Online]. Adelaide: Botanic Gardens of Adelaide & State Herbarium. Available from: http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/pdfs/Census_5.0_web.pdf.

Brandle, R. (Ed.) (1998). A Biological Survey of the Stony Deserts, South Australia 1994-1997. Adelaide, South Australia: Department for Environment, Heritage & Aboriginal Affairs and National Parks Foundation of South Australia.

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH) (2010). Australian Plant Census. [Online]. Australian National Herbarium, Australian National Botanic Gardens and Australian Biological Resources Study . Available from: http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/.

Duguid, A., J. Barnetson, B. Clifford, C. Pavey, D. Albrecht, J. Risler & M. McNellie (2002). Wetlands in the arid Northern Territory. A report to Environment Australia on the inventory and significance of wetlands in the arid Northern Territory. Alice Springs : Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.

Duguid, A., J. Barnetson, B. Clifford, C. Pavey, D. Albrecht, J. Risler & M. McNellie (2005). Wetlands in the arid Northern Territory. A report to Environment Australia on the inventory and significance of wetlands in the arid NT. [Online]. Alice Springs: Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. Available from: http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/nature/aridwetlands.html.

Duguid, A., R. Kerrigan, D. Albrecht & R. Baker (2006). Threatened Species of the Northern Territory-Dwarf Desert Spike-rush Eleocharis papillosa. [Online]. Northern Territory Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport . Available from: http://lrm.nt.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species/specieslist.

Florabase (2007a). [Online]. Available from: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/31017.

Holtze (2005). Darwin Herbarium specimen database. Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment, Darwin.

South Australia Department of Environment and Heritage (SA DEH) (2007). Species information sheet on Eleocharis papillosa. Report provided to the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2006jm). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Eleocharis papillosa. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/eleocharis-papillosa.html.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008afv). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Eleocharis papillosa. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/2519-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2010ay). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Dwarf Desert Spike-rush (Eleocharis papillosa). Unpublished report. Canberra: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

White, M., D. Albrecht, A. Duguid, P. Latz & M. Hamilton (2000). Plant species and sites of botanical significance in the Southern Bioregions of the Northern Territory. Volume 1: Significant Vascular Plants. Arid Lands Environment Centre. Alice Springs, NT.

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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). Eleocharis papillosa in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:11:15 +1000.