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 Critically Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aec) [Conservation Advice].
 
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, specific management actions are needed to address the threats to the Ballerina Orchid. This includes possible translocations to establish new populations (19/12/2008).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft survey guidelines for Australia's threatened orchids (Department of the Environment, 2013b) [Admin Guideline].
 
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 (69) (19/12/2008) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2008d) [Legislative Instrument].
 
State Listing Status
WA: Listed as Critically Endangered (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list)
Scientific name Caladenia melanema [65295]
Family Orchidaceae:Orchidales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author Hopper & A.P.Brown
Infraspecies author  
Reference Hopper, S.D. & Brown, A.P. (2001) Nuytsia 14: 248-249
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://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/13861

Scientific name: Caladenia melanoma

Common name: Ballerina orchid

The Ballerina Orchid is a small, inconspicuous, terrestrial spider orchid. Plants grow singly or in groups. Each plant has a single erect pale green leaf to approximately 12 cm high and a flower spike to 15 cm high. The spider-like flowers are about 4–5 cm across, and are cream with maroon markings (Hoffman & Brown 1998; Hopper & Brown 2001b). Flowers have dark trichomes (outgrowth or hair) on the sepals and petals of flowers (Brundrett 2011a). The species flowers from August to early September (TSSC 2008aeh).

The Ballerina Orchid is known from four populations between Lake Grace and Pingrup, in the wheatbelt 290 km south-east of Perth, Western Australia (Brundrett 2011a). The largest population occurs in Chinocup Nature Reserve (NR) (Brundrett 2011a). The dimensions of the strip of melaleuca woodland that the species occurs in are 3 x 1 km (Brundrett 2011a). The majority of plants occur in an area that is only 150 x 80 m (Brundrett 2011a). The species occurs in an area that has been extensively cleared for agriculture and there is little potential suitable habitat (WA CALM 2006).

Ballerina Orchid seeds were collected by Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management staff in September 2004. This material was sent to the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for storage, research purposes and potential translocation programs. Root collar material has been collected to isolate the soil fungi required for seed germination (WA CALM 2006).

A number of surveys for additional Ballerina Orchid populations have been undertaken, including (WA CALM 2006):

  • Western Australian Herbarium staff and Threatened Species and Communities Unit staff searched roadsides and reserves in the vicinity of the known location and no other subpopulations were found (August–September 2001).
  • The Western Australian Native Orchid Study and Conservation Group (WANOSCG) discovered three new populations and further sites near the Chinocup NR between 2007–2010 (Brundrett 2011a).

In 2010, the largest poplation of Ballerina Orchid was counted at 2269 (Brundrett 2011a). Abundance is known to vary annually with about 40% of plants emerging each year (Brundrett 2011a). Taking into account annual dormancy rates, the total population may be 4000–5500 (based on 15 m of a 50 m transect that measured the precise location of plants relative to the transect axis between 2007–10 annually) (Brundrett 2011a). Previous total population estimates have been 80 in 1994, 22 in 2000 and 300+ in 2004 (WA CALM 2006). There are four known populations (Brundrett 2011a):

Population number Sites  Tenure Abundance Year Comment 
1 5 Chinocup NR 2269 2010 Healthy, but threatened by grazing, salinity, accidental disturbance and weeds. Sites are in same habitat separated by salt lakes within a few kilometres of each other.
1 road reserve possibly extinct 2010  
2 1 nature reserve 10 2008 Healthy, possible hybrids, discovered in 2008
3 1 private property 20 2009 Poor condition, threatened by grazing, discovered in 2009
4 1 nature reserve 206 2010 Healthy, possible hybrids, discovered in 2010

The Ballerina Orchid grows in a white, sand clay-loam rise near salt lakes in Melaleuca lateriflora tall shrubland (Brundrett 2011a; Hopper & Brown 2001b). Associated species include Swamp Mallet (Eucalyptus spathulata) (Hopper & Brown 2001b), Astartea sp., Sticky Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscose), Gahnia sp., Lycium australeMelaleuca hamulosa, M. uncinata and Rhagodia sp. (Western Australian Herbarium 2006).

The Ballerina Orchid is a herbaceous perennial that resprouts annually from an underground tuber. Plants are capable of living for many years and are capable of reaching sexual maturity within a few years of germination (WA CALM 2006). Individual plants may be killed by drought and physical damage by insects and foraging animals (Brown n.d. pers. comm. cited in TSSC 2008aeh).

Flowering individuals will produce a bud early in the growing season that continues to develop until flowering. The flowering period for the Ballerina Orchid is August to early September (Hoffman & Brown 1998; Hopper & Brown 2001b). The proportion of flowering to non-flowering individuals is influenced by environmental conditions, including the presence or absence of summer fire, the amount of rainfall received during winter and spring, and the level of grazing (Brown n.d. pers. comm. cited in TSSC 2008aeh; Brundrett 2011a; Stack & English 2004). A thynnid wasp (Rhagigaster sp.) is likely to be be the pollinator (Brundrett 2011a).

Plants flower for approximately two weeks or until pollination occurs. The flowers then collapse and, if pollination was successful, a seed capsule develops. A high proportion of seed pods have been observed to be grazed before reaching maturity (Brundrett 2011a). The capsule swells as the seeds mature, taking from six to eight weeks to develop depending on climatic conditions. If temperatures are higher than average, seeds may mature faster. Prior to seeds being released, the capsule turns yellow and then brown. Small slits develop in the capsule and the seed is dispersed by wind (Brown n.d. pers. comm. cited in TSSC 2008aeh; Stack & English 2004).

Surveys should be carried out during the flowering season (August and early September) (Hoffman & Brown 1998; Hopper & Brown 2001b). Surveys should concentrate on geographically similar areas with a similar soil type to existing populations (WA CALM 2006).

Caladenia abbreviata, C. bicalliata and C. evanescens (all members of the C. filamentosa complex) are similar to the Ballerina Orchid in having abbreviated petals and sepals, however these are coastal species. The Ballerina Orchid is unique in the C. filamentosa complex because of its inland distribution and its hemispherical, rather than cylindrical, glandular hairs on its flowers. These give the petal and sepal tips a distinctive blackened appearance and lead to its scientific name - melanema (Hoffman & Brown 1998; Hopper & Brown 2001b).

Pink Fairy Orchids (Caladenia latifolia) grow at the same location as the Ballerina Orchid but flower later in the season (WA CALM 2006). The Pink Fairy Orchid has a broad leaf that often lies flat on the ground (the species is also clonal and occurs as large colonies) while the Ballerina Orchid has a narrow erect leaf and grows as scattered individuals or in small clumps (Brown n.d., pers. comm. cited in TSSC 2008aeh).

Grazing

Grazing by the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and kangaroos (Macropus spp.) is the greatest threat to the Ballerina Orchid (Brundrett 2011a; WA CALM 2006). Monitoring has observed severe grazing events where all flowers and most leaves at a site have been removed by grazing (Brundrett 2011a). A 10 x 10 m exclosure around part of the largest population has reduced grazing, although some grazing of flowers was still occurring after the fence was erected (Brundrett 2011a). The species that is grazing within the exclosure is unknown (Brundrett 2011a).

Salinity

The Ballerina Orchid occurs in an area of very high salinity risk (Brundrett 2011a). The species may avoid the worst impacts of salinity by summer dormancy (Brundrett 2011a). Although the impact of salinity to the species is unknown, translocation options are limited as valley floors and wetlands that are surrounded by cleared agricultural land have a high salinity risk (Ferdowsian cited in Brundrett 2011a).

Minister's reasons for recovery plan decision

Specific management actions are needed to address the threats to the Ballerina Orchid. This includes possible translocations to establish new populations. A recovery plan is considered necessary to implement and manage these actions.

Wheatbelt Orchid Rescue project

The Wheatbelt Orchid Rescue project is a Lotterywest funded collaboration between Western Australia Native Orchid Society and Conservation Group, School of Plant Biology University of Western Australia, the Friends of Kings Park and the Department of Environment and Conservation (Brundrett 2011a). The project aims to conserve the rarest orchids in the wheatbelt through surveying and monitoring to contribute to site management prescriptions (Brundrett 2011a).

This project has implemented recommendations identified in the Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (WA DEC 2008q). Outcomes of actions that have been implemented include (Brundrett 2011a):

  • the discovery of three new populations
  • detailed monitoring of a 50 m transect
  • a more accurate understanding of the species total abundance
  • development of translocation plan.

Based on implementation of these actions, recommendations have been proposed, including (Brundrett 2011a):

  • the continued monitoring of the transect to determine relationships between weather and population dynamics
  • the use of small permanent tags to precisely indentify individual plants or clumps from year to year
  • determination of the status of potential hybrid populations
  • identification of suitable translocation site outside current area.

Management documents relevant to the Ballerina Orchid are 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 Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aec) [Conservation Advice].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition, predation and/or habitat degradation by kangaroos and wallabies Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aec) [Conservation Advice].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Salinity Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Natural System Modifications:Fire and Fire Suppression:Inappropriate prescribed regimes and/or vegetation management to control fire regimes Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Natural System Modifications:Other Ecosystem Modifications:Changes in hydrology leading to rising water tables and dryland salinity Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aec) [Conservation Advice].
Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low genetic diversity and genetic inbreeding Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aec) [Conservation Advice].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2008aeh) [Listing Advice].
Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan (Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC), 2008q) [Recovery Plan].

Brundrett, M. (2011a). Population Size and Vital Statistics Data for the Ballerina Orchid (Caladenia melanema). Wheatbelt Orchid Rescue Project Final Report 3. University of Western Australia.

Hoffman, N. & A. Brown (1998). Orchids of South-west Australia Rev. 2nd edn. Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press.

Hopper, S.D. & A.P. Brown (2001b). Contributions to Western Australian orchidology: 2. New taxa and circumscriptions in Caladenia (Spider, Fairy and Dragon Orchids of Western Australia). Nuytsia. 14(1/2):27-314. Perth, Western Australia: Department of Conservation & Land Management.

Stack, G. & V. English (2004). Carbunup King Spider Orchid (Caladenia procera) Interim Recovery Plan 2004-2009. Wannero: Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008aec). Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Caladenia melanema. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/65295-conservation-advice.pdf.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2008aeh). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Caladenia melanema. [Online]. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/65295-listing-advice.pdf.

Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management (WA CALM) (2006). Records held in CALM's Declared Flora Database and rare flora files. Perth, Western Australia: WA CALM.

Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation (WA DEC) (2008q). Ballerina orchid (Caladenia melanema) Interim Recovery Plan. [Online]. Kensington, Western Australia: Department of Environment and Conservation. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/caladenia-melanema.html.

Western Australian Herbarium (2006). Florabase - The Western Australian Flora. [Online]. Perth, Western Australia: Department of Conservation and Land Management. Available from: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

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). Caladenia melanema in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:24:34 +1000.