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 Endangered|
|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||
Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001e) [Recovery Plan].
|Other EPBC Act Plans||
Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
|Policy Statements and Guidelines||
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
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].
Documents and Websites
|State Listing Status||
|Non-statutory Listing Status||
|Scientific name||Eulamprus leuraensis |
|Species author||Wells and Wellington,1984|
This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.
Scientific name: Eulamprus leuraensis.
Common name: Blue Mountains Water Skink.
Other names: Leura Skink, Blue Mountains Swamp Skink.
The Blue Mountains Water Skink was described in 1984 from a specimen collected at Leura in 1969 (Wells & Wellington 1984). The species was re-described by Shea and Peterson (1985), who recognised the genus as Sphenomorphus. The genus Sphenomorphus, as then defined (Cogger et al. 1993), was recognised as composite and so the generic name Eulamprus was elevated from synonymy for the 'water skink' species group when this new species was described. The Blue Mountains Water Skink had been known to be distinctive for a considerable period of time prior to its formal description and specimens had been lodged in museum collections from as early as 1943 (National Museum of Victoria - Shea & Peterson 1985). The break up of the genus Sphenomorphus, and the use of the generic name Eulamprus, took some time to gain acceptance in the general literature following the description of this species and, as such, the species has often been referred to as Sphenomorphus leuraensis (NSW NPWS 2001e).
The Blue Mountains Water Skink is a medium-sized lizard that reaches a maximum weight of around 10 g. It grows to approximately 20 cm long (average about 16 cm) with a snout-vent length of about 8 cm (LeBreton 1996). The body of the Blue Mountains Water Skink is much darker than the other species of Eulamprus found in the Blue Mountains. Across its back it is very dark brown to black with narrow yellow/bronze to white stripes along its length to the beginning of the tail and continuing along the tail as a series of spots. This gives the appearance of a distinctive dark dorsal stripe bordered by yellow lines. The limbs and sides are also dark brown to black with yellow to bronze streaks and small blotches. The head is brown to bronze with black flecks and its underside is cream to golden yellow with small dark blotches. The limbs are well developed and all have five digits (Cogger 2000; NSW NPWS 2001e).
The Blue Mountains Water Skink is restricted to areas of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau in NSW (Swan 1990). Early museum specimens were collected from Wentworth Falls (46 km south-east of Lithgow), Newnes Plateau and Leura (Shea & Peterson 1985). Interpretation of aerial photographs identified an additional 32 potential sites for the species, with later surveys identifying 18 populations at those sites (LeBreton 1996). Two new populations were later discovered near Bullaburra in the Blue Mountains. In the period between its initial collection in 1969 and 2001, the Blue Mountains Water Skink has been found at 30 sites (NSW NPWS 2002z).
It is possible that additional populations may be found, that lie outside the currently known distribution (NSW NPWS 2002z). LeBreton (1996) undertook an assessment of potential habitat using vegetation maps and aerial photos. He determined that suitable habitat occurs up to 10 km south and one km east of the most southern and most eastern sites respectively. Scattered swamps occurring further east, in the lower Blue Mountains, may also provide habitat. At Newnes Plateau scattered swamps extend up to eight km north of the northern most site, which may be suitable habitat for the species. A few swamps to the west of the western most sites may also comprise suitable habitat. Other areas where the skink may occur include the Boyd Plateau, south of Jenolan Caves, the Lithgow Valley and south of Sydney (LeBreton 1996; M. LeBreton 1999, pers. comm.; NSW NPWS 2001e).
Of the 30 known populations of the Blue Mountains Water Skink (see Table 1):
- three occur primarily on Crown Recreation Reserves managed by the Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) at Leura Park, Wentworth Falls Lake and Jamison Creek (sites 19, 20 and 28) (NSW NPWS 2002z);
- two occur in water catchment areas that are declared Schedule 1 Special Area under the Sydney Water Catchment Management Act 1998. These are the Blackheath Special Area and Katoomba Special Area (sites 14 and 18) and both are managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority (NSW NPWS 2002z);
- eight populations occur on the Newnes Plateau within Newnes State Forest and are managed by State Forests of NSW (sites 1–7 and 29) (NSW NPWS 2002z);
- sixteen populations occur primarily in the Blue Mountains National Park (sites 8–13, 15–17, 21–26, and 30) (NSW NPWS 2002z); and
- seven sites occur in part on privately owned land, although in each case, the majority of the site is publicly owned (sites 10, 11, 13, 19, 20, 22 and 27) (NSW NPWS 2002z).
Further populations may occur on land managed by the above agencies. Many areas of potential habitat have not been surveyed for the Blue Mountains Water Skink (NSW NPWS 2002z).
Most of the land-use zones in which the Blue Mountains Water Skink occur have objectives that aim to protect the natural environment. These zones include National Park, Environmental Protection and Recreation-Environmental Protection (refer to Table 1 for individual site zoning). However, small parts on the edges of some of the known sites, as well as many areas adjacent to known locations, are zoned for residential development. The zoning of land adjacent to, and in, the catchment of swamps in the Blue Mountains is an important factor in the stability and long term viability of populations of the species. Sites 10–14, 19–22 and 27, and/or land adjacent to these sites, have been zoned for residential development (NSW NPWS 2002z).
Table 1:Summary of land-use zoning of sites containing the 30 known populations of the Blue Mountains Water Skink (NSW NPWS 2002z).
|Site number||Location||Land-use zoning||Tenure|
|1||Wolgan River, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|2||Carne Creek, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|3||Carne Creek, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|4||Carne Creek, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|5||Carne Creek, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|7||Bungleboori Creek, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|8||Bennett Gully, Blackheath||NP||NPWS|
|9||Near Hat Hill, Blackheath||NP||NPWS|
|10||Near Hat Hill, Blackheath||NP/EP||NPWS/private|
|11||Near Govetts Leap Brook, Blackheath||NP/RES-BC/EP/ RES A1||NPWS/private|
|12||Near Govetts Leap Brook, Blackheath||NP||NPWS|
|13||Hayward Gully, Blackheath||NP/RES-BC||NPWS/private|
|14||Blackheath Special Area||EP||SCA|
|15||Urella Brook, Mt Hay Range||NP||NPWS|
|16||Wirralie Brook, Mt Hay Range||NP||NPWS|
|17||Near Henson Glen, Mt Hay Range||NP||NPWS|
|18||Katoomba Special Area||EP||SCA|
|19||Leura Park||REC-EP/RES A1/ RES-BC||Crown Recreation Reserve managed by BMCC/private|
|20||Wentworth Falls Lake||REC-EP/RES-BC||Crown Recreation Reserve managed by BMCC/private|
|22||Kings Tableland, near Wentworth Falls||NP/EP||NPWS/private|
|23||Williams Ridge, south of Lawson||NP||NPWS|
|24||Williams Ridge, south of Lawson||NP||NPWS|
|25||Williams Ridge, south of Lawson||NP||NPWS|
|26||Williams Ridge, above Ingar picnic ground||NP||NPWS|
|27||Franks Creek, Wentworth Falls||NP/EP||NPWS/Crown Recreation Reserve managed by BMCC / private|
|28||Lawson Creek, Wentworth Falls||Crown Recreation Reserve managed by BMCC/private|
|29||Carne Creek Tributary, Newnes Plateau||SF||SFNSW|
|30||Bedford Creek Tributary, Blue Mountains National Park||NP||NPWS|
Key: SF- State Forest; NP- National Park; EP- Environmental Protection; REC-EP- Recreation-Environmental Protection; RES-BC- Residential Bushland Conservation; RES A1- Residential A1.
Thirty populations of the Blue Mountains Swamp Skink are known between Newnes and Hazelbrook in the Blue Mountains region (NSW NPWS 2002z). However, there is no information on the size any of these populations, or an estimate of the total population size. There is currently no evidence to suggest that existing populations of this species are declining (NSW NPWS 2001e).
All of the known Blue Mountains Swamp Skink populations are located on land that is managed by local or state government agencies. Sixteen populations occur mainly in the Blue Mountains National Park (NSW NPWS 2002z) which is a World Heritage Area. Blue Mountains Swamp Skinks are known to be associated with the Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone Ecological Community (NSW SC 2005a) (listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act).
The Blue Mountains Water Skink lives in high elevation habitats. The lowest altitude recorded for a population is 560 m at Williams Ridge, south of Hazelbrook (NSW NPWS 2002z). The species is restricted to isolated and naturally fragmented habitats of permanent sedge and shrub 'hanging' swamps (these develop at moderate to high altitudes on sloping rock faces composed of Narrabeen sandstone which are subject to a constant supply of water), in open forest and open scrub or heath (Keith & Benson 1988; Kingston et al. 1979; Shea & Peterson 1985; Wells & Wellington 1984). In the Blue Mountains the skink has been found in dense clumps of swamp sedges or herbs (characterised by Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus, Lepidosperma limicola and Xyris ustulata) growing on peaty soils derived from sandstone (LeBreton in Cogger et al. 1993). On Newnes Plateau it has been found in shrub swamps bordering streams flowing over sandstone and surrounded by tall open forest (Cogger et al. 1993).
Larger, wetter swamps, in closer proximity to other inhabited swamps, are more likely to be occupied by Blue Mountains Water Skink, than smaller (less than 0.7 ha) drier and more isolated swamps. Increased numbers of Blue Mountains Water Skinks are found when coverage two plant species, Tetrarrhena turfosa and Baeckea linifolia is higher. However, this does not necessarily indicate a direct relationship between the Blue Mountains Water Skink and the two plant species. It is possible that these plants rely on similar environmental conditions to the Blue Mountains Water Skink, or occur in areas of high food resources for the Blue Mountains Water Skink (LeBreton 1996). Within occupied sites, those with deeper leaf litter have a greater biomass (density) of Blue Mountains Water Skinks and those with more moist soil have a higher trapping frequency of Blue Mountains Water Skinks (LeBreton 1996).
When disturbed, Blue Mountains Water Skinks appear to use dense grass or holes for shelter (Shea & Peterson 1985).
The Blue Mountains sedge and shrub swamp habitats, that the Blue Mountains Water Skink occupies, are highly biodiverse with approximately 200 plant species occurring in them (Smith & Smith 1996).
Other threatened (under the NSW TSC Act 1995) fauna species occurring in the same habitat as the Blue Mountains Water Skink include the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea), Red-crowned Toadlet (Pseudophryne australis) and the EPBC Act listed Giant Burrowing Frog (Heleioporus australiacus). The swamps also provide habitat for three regionally significant fauna species: the Southern Emu-wren (Stipiturus malachurus), Lewin's Rail (Dryolimnas pectoralis) and Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis) (Washington 1999).
Two threatened plant species that are known to occur in the Blue Mountains Water Skink's habitat are: the NSW TSC Act 1995 listed Carex klaphakei, which is only known from three locations in hanging swamp at Blackheath (Washington 1999); and the EPBC Act listed Pultenaea glabra (NSW SC 2005a).
Male Blue Mountains Swamp Skinks have been captured in September and October with swollen testes, suggesting that mating may occur during this period. This is reinforced by the fact that females have been observed to have small follicles in January and large, yolking follicles in October (Shea & Peterson 1985). The species is ovoviviparous, meaning that the egg develops and hatches inside the female, with young born live (NSW NPWS 2001e).Young are born in late December (LeBreton 1996). The adult sex ratio appears to be close to 1M:1F (LeBreton 1996).
No specific information is available about the habitat requirements of the Blue Mountains Water Skink when breeding. Basking sites are likely to be important as skinks that bear live young are generally those which occur in cooler climates (Greer 1989). This may have evolved because embryonic development is temperature dependent, and in cooler climates the developing young are generally exposed to higher temperatures if they remain inside the female, who maintains an elevated body temperature through basking (Greer 1989).
The diet of the Blue Mountains Water Skink appears to be mostly insectivorous, and includes grasshoppers, flies, moths, weevils and wasps. Analysis has shown that the eaten insects are not ground dwelling, suggesting foraging occurs in the grasses above the ground (NSW NPWS 2001e). A small fruit with a seed was found in a scat at Leura (Le Breton 1996).
The Blue Mountains Water Skink is a semi-aquatic species, active on warm sunny days from September until late April (LeBreton 1996). It is thought to hibernate during winter (NSW NPWS 2001e).
The small number, and apparent isolation of populations in conjunction with the limited geographic distribution of the Blue Mountains Water Skink, make it vulnerable to the operation of threatening processes (NSW NPWS 2001e).
The Blue Mountains Water Skink, and its habitat, are threatened by:
- Urban development, with an unknown number of past sites already lost and several current sites threatened by development and associated impacts (NSW NPWS 2001e).
- Weed invasion and the resulting changes to vegetation structure to sites near developed areas, disturbance from recreational users of swamps (e.g. walkers, mountain bike riders, four wheel drive enthusiasts), pollution and sedimentation (including stormwater run-off) ) (NSW NPWS 2001e).
- Predation from cats (LeBreton in Cogger et al. 1993).
- Several sites have been impacted by the maintenance of service corridors for powerlines and pipelines running through the swamps (NSW NPWS 2001e).
- The naturally fragmented nature of the habitat places many populations at risk, due to their isolation and small size. The size of swamps makes populations more vulnerable to 'edge effects', increasing the risk of local extinctions via stochastic (random) processes (NSW NPWS 2001e).
Sites at Blackheath, Leura Falls Park and Wentworth Falls Lake currently face severe threats in the form of predation, disturbance, pollution and sedimentation resulting from nearby developed areas (NSW NPWS 2001e).
Three sites in the Newnes Plateau State Forest occur adjacent to pine plantations and may be threatened by increasing acidity of run-off water and encroachment of feral pine seedlings (NSW NPWS 2001e).
Fire management is also important to habitat conservation. Although no specific study into the fire ecology of the species has been done, low intensity, patchy burns appear to maintain vegetation without endangering populations (NSW NPWS 2001e).
The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC) has provided the following priority actions to aid in the recovery of the species (NSW DECC 2005ai):
- Assess known sites for threats, monitor changes in site condition, and develop and implement strategies to address threats.
- Increase public awareness and involvement in recovery efforts.
- Reassess conservation status.
- Ongoing coordination of the Blue Mountains multispecies recovery team.
- Control pigs impacting on swamp sites on the Newnes Plateau.
- Control invasion of Pinus species into sites within or adjoining Newnes SF and control weeds at sites adjoining urban areas or impacted by runoff from the Great Western Highway.
- Develop, implement and maintain a program to monitor population status at representative sites.
- Encourage and facilitate research into impact assessment/response to disturbance, home range and movement patterns, habitat research, population dynamics and genetic analyses.
- Identify and map potential habitat and undertake targeted survey to assess potential habitat for presence of Blue Mountains Water Skinks.
The following documents may inform protection and management of the Blue Mountains Water Skink:
- The Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan (NSW NPWS 2001e)
- Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs (AGDEH 2005p)
- Threat Abatement Plan for Predation by Feral Cats (DEWHA 2008adg)
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|
|Biological Resource Use:Logging and Wood Harvesting:Habitat disturbance due to foresty activities||Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001e) [Recovery Plan].|
|Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities||Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001e) [Recovery Plan].|
|Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:Disturbance, especially from human recreational activities and development||Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001e) [Recovery Plan].|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation||Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat)||
The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles (Cogger, H.G., E.E. Cameron, R.A. Sadlier & P. Eggler, 1993) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS), 2001e) [Recovery Plan].
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition, grazing, predation and/or habitat degradation by rats|
|Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alteration of hydrological regimes and water quality|
|Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate and/or changed fire regimes (frequency, timing, intensity)|
|Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes|
|Pollution:Household Sewage and Urban Waste Water:Changes to water quality and quantity due to urban/agricultural runoff and stormwater|
|Pollution:Pollution:Changes to water and sediment flows leading to erosion, siltation and pollution|
|Pollution:Pollution:Pollution due to oil spills and other chemical pollutants|
|Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development|
|Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals|
|Transportation and Service Corridors:Utility and Service Lines:Habitat modification due to maintenance of water pipeline easement|
|Transportation and Service Corridors:Utility and Service Lines:Powerline easement maintenance and construction; mortality due to collision with powerlines|
Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2005p). Threat Abatement Plan for Predation, Habitat Degradation, Competition and Disease Transmission by Feral Pigs. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/pig.html.
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.
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, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2008zzp). Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/cats08.html.
Greer, A.E. (1989). The biology and evolution of Australian lizards. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons.
Keith, D.A. & D.H. Benson (1988). Natural vegetation of the Katoomba area. Cunninghamiana. 2:107-143. N/A.
Kingston, T.J., I.F. Pulsford & P. Smith (1979). Faunal survey of the Newnes Plateau/Colo River area. N/A. N/A:Jan-45. Australian Museum. Australian Musuem, Sydney.
LeBreton, M. (1996). Habitat and distribution of the Blue Mountains Swamp Skink (Eulamprus leruaensis). Hons. Thesis. Sydney, NSW: University of NSW.
LeBreton, M. (1999). Personal Communication.
NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC) (2005ai). NSW Threatened Species - Blue Mountains Water Skink - Profile. [Online]. Available from: http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10322.
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2001e). Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) Recovery Plan. [Online]. Hurstville, NSW: NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/blue-mtns-water-skink/index.html.
NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) (2002z). Integrated Community Recovery Program for Five Threatened Species in the Blue Mountains. Endangered Species Program Annual Report 2002.
NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC) (2005a). Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamp in the Sydney Basin Bioregion - final determination. [Online]. Sydney, NSW: NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change. Available from: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/determinations/NewnesPlateauShrubSwampEndSpListing.htm.
Shea, G.M. & M. Peterson (1985). The Blue Mountains water skink, Sphenomorphus leuraensis (Lacertilia: Scincidae): a redescription, with notes on its natural history. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 108 (2):141-148.
Smith P. & J. Smith (1996). Regionally significant wetlands of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River catchment for Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 20. Leura. NSW: P & J Smith Ecological Consultants.
Swan, G. (1990). A Field Guide to the Snakes and Lizards of New South Wales. Winnmallee, NSW: Three Sisters Productions Pty Ltd.
Wells, R.W. & C.R. Wellington (1984). A synopsis of the class Reptilia in Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology. 1 (3-4):73-129.
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). Eulamprus leuraensis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:06:25 +1000.