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 Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (a green alga) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2012bg) [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
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 Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list)
Scientific name Lychnothamnus barbatus [64479]
Family Characeae:Charales:Streptophyta (no class):Streptophyta:Plantae
Species author (Meyen) Leonhardi
Infraspecies author  
Reference J-Y Chou, W-L Wang & J-S Chang (2007) Botanical Studies 48: 117-126 at
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: Lychnothamnus barbatus (Mey.) Leonh.

Lychnothamnus barbatus is conventionally accepted (CHAH 2010). McCourt and colleagues (1999) presented evidence about its native status in Australia, and concluded that the Australian population is unlikely to be exotic based on genetic analysis, and merits continued protection.

Lychnothamnus barbatus is a submerged aquatic freshwater macrophyte (algae). Plants usually grow 12–25 cm high, are greyish-green, somewhat branched and moderately encrusted. There are 7–10 branchlets in a whorl, to 5 cm long, with 3–5 segments and a much elongated primary segment. Spores are orange-brown to dark brown, usually 1–1.15 mm long and 0.6–0.72 mm wide, with 8–10 prominent ridges (Wood & Imahori 1965).

Lychnothamnus barbatus is known from two locations in Australia: Warrill Creek, west of Boonah, Queensland; and Wallace Creek, south of Boonah, Queensland (Queensland Herbarium 2009). The species' extent of occurrence is approximately 30 km by 1 km (30 km2). There are no data to show a past or future decline in extent, and the species distribution is not considered fragmented.

Lychnothamnus barbatus has been collected from sites in Europe (Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Lithuania), India, China, Australia and Papua New Guinea (Balevicius 2001; McCourt et al. 1999; Osborne 1989). There are no data on the global population size, although McCourt and colleagues (1999) commented that the species is “declining” worldwide.

McCourt and colleagues (1999) compared the rbcL sequences of disjunct isolates of L. barbatus from Croatia, Germany and Australia, and found them to be nearly identical, though all were unique. Although it is possible that Australian populations are recent introductions, available evidence does not support this, including:

  • the species presence in Pleistocene sediment cores from the Gulf of Carpentaria (Garcia 2001)
  • different habitat types between Australian and European populations (cold, deep, clear lakes in Europe; and subtropical, warm, ephemeral streams in Queensland) (McCourt et al. 1999)
  • specimens from the different continents have different morphological traits (they differ in the length of stipulodes and bract cells, the number of branchlets in a whorl and the degree of cortication) (McCourt et al. 1999)
  • disjunct distributions are well documented among aquatic plants in general (McCourt et al. 1999)
  • the likelihood of transporting viable charophyte thalli or oospores between continents is low (McCourt et al. 1999).

Some surveys were carried out for Lychnothamnus barbatus in south-east Queensland in 1996 (Casanova 1997), but the species remains poorly known. It is likely that further populations could be found.

McCourt and colleagues (1999) suggested that there are fewer than 2500 individuals and recorded (October 1996) that the Warrill Creek population consisted of “a few weak specimens”.

The species may undergo extreme fluctuations in population size. For example, McCourt and colleagues (1999) reported that the Warrill Creek population “was decimated” when the site was subjected to high, turbid flows.

Neither population occurs on reserved land.

Lychnothamnus barbatus occurs in clear flowing water (Queensland Herbarium 2009)

Lychnothamnus barbatus is an alga, and hence does not flower or fruit. Its method of reproduction is not recorded. No crossbreeding in the wild has been recorded for this species (Queensland Herbarium 2009).

Lychnothamnus barbatus is difficult to detect and is best identified by an algal specialist. Surveys should be confined to semi-permanent or permanent creeks and rivers.

The main potential threats to Lychnothamnus barbatus include: increased turbidity from land clearance upstream of its habitat; sand or gravel extraction; reduced stream flows from increased water extraction; changes in flow conditions from impoundments; and eutrophication of its habitat (Casanova 1996).

Refer to the Commonwealth Conservation Advice (TSSC 2010afy) for information on research priorities and recovery priority actions to mitigate threats including habitat loss, disturbance and modification, and weeds. Raising awareness of the species and enabling recovery of additional populations are also encouraged in the Advice.

McCourt and colleagues (1999) have undertaken a genetic study into Characeae and the relationship between Australian and European Lychnothamnus barbatus.

Management documents relevant to Lychnothamnus barbatus, include:

  • Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (TSSC 2008afy).

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 Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification, destruction and alteration due to changes in land use patterns Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].
Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Alterations to hydrology through water extraction Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Changes to hydrology including construction of dams/barriers Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].
Pollution:Pollution:Changes to water and sediment flows leading to erosion, siltation and pollution Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008afy) [Conservation Advice].

Balevicius, A. (2001). Distribution of Lychnothamnus barbatus community in Lithuania. Biologija. [Online]. Available from:

Casanova, M. (1997). Report on in-stream flora survey for Department of Natural Resources, Queensland. Armidale: University of New England.

Casanova, M.T. (1996). Amendment form for Queensland Rare and Threatened Plant Schedules (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nomination of native species. Correspondence in Queensland Herbarium files, File BRI 900L.

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:

Garcia, A. (2001). BRI File 900L Memo regarding Lychnothamnus barbatus to Bill McDonald.

McCourt, R.M., M.T. Casanova, K.G. Karol & M. Feist (1999). Monophyly of Genera and Species of Characeae based on rbcL Sequences, with Special Reference to Australian and European Lychnothamnus barbatus (Characeae: Charophyceae). Australian Journal of Botany. 47:361-9.

Osborne, P.L. (1989). A directory of Asian Wetlands, Papua New Guinea. [Online]. Ramsar sites Information service, Wetlands International. Available from:

Queensland Herbarium (2009). Specimen label information.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008afy). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Lychnothamnus barbatus. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from:

Wood, R.D. & K. Imahori (1965). A revision of the Characeae. First part of a monograph of the Characeae. Verlag Von J. Cramer, Weinheim.

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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). Lychnothamnus barbatus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:23:04 +1000.