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 Endangered
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
 
Approved Conservation Advice for Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014bg) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, included on the 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:Recovery plan for the threatened plants of the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory of Australia 2008-2013 (Liddle, D.T., A. Gibbons & R. Taylor, 2008) [State Recovery Plan].
NT:Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Typhonium mirabile (Northern Territory Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NT NRETAS), 2007) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
NT: Listed as Endangered (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): 2012)
Scientific name Typhonium mirabile [79227]
Family Araceae:Arales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (A.Hay) A.Hay
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
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: Typhonium mirabile

 Typhonium mirabile is a small, tuberous herb with annual aerial parts. The tuber measures approximately 12 x 8 mm. The leaves are blue-green and cordate (heart-shaped), and are held on or just above the soil surface. The spathe (reduced leaf often enclosing the flowerhead) is partly buried in the soil. The lower portion of the spathe is white-cream with grey mottling, while the aerial part is a mottled grey-green colour. The spadix (flower spike with a fleshy axis) limb is smoky grey in colour and greenish towards the base. The fruits are often held below ground level (DIPE 2006).

Typhonium mirabile is endemic to the Northern Territory where its entire known range (ie extent of occurrence) is restricted to the western half of Melville Island, in the Tiwi Islands group (DIPE 2006). The species was formerly known from five locations, although two of these populations have since been destroyed (NT NRETAS 2007).

The extent of occurrence of the species is estimated at 126 km². All populations of T. mirabile occur on land owned by the Tiwi Land Council, much of which has been designated for intensive forestry activities (DIPE 2006).

The area of occupancy of T. mirabile is estimated at 0.05-0.1 km² (ie 5–10 ha). This figure was extrapolated in 2000 from a population count and the approximate area of the largest populations known in 2000 (Brock et al. 2000; Cowie 2005 pers. comm.). However, given that two of the known populations are now extinct, the area of occupancy may now be smaller.

Although this species is seasonally dormant and cryptic in the landscape, it is considered adequately surveyed. This is based on the strong survey effort in the area and the high profile nature of this species with collectors. While more populations may exist, the paucity of collections is considered to accurately reflect its very restricted distribution and abundance (DIPE 2006). For example, 12 431 plant records have been collected in the two 0.25° cells that encompass all known collections of T. mirabile. On a finer scale 1666 plant records have been collected from within the extent of occurrence of this species (126 km2), and 517 plant records from the 46 km2 area which comprises the mapped vegetation community in which it was recorded (DIPE 2006).

Type material for T. mirabile was taken from a specimen cultivated by D. Jones from Hanguana Jungle on Melville Island in 1984 (Hay 1993). All other known populations are also on Melville Island. Hay & Taylor (1996) recorded that, despite survey effort on Bathurst Island, no populations have been found there. In addition, targeted survey for this species as part of a biodiversity assessment (Brock et al. 2000) located only one additional population, on Melville Island.

It is estimated that the total number of mature individuals of T. mirabile is likely to be approximately 200 (DIPE 2006). This estimate was calculated by extrapolating from population counts of approximately 60 individuals at the largest of the five known populations (Brock et al. 2000), with most other known populations being substantially smaller (Cowie 2005 pers. comm.). However, the recent loss of two of the five known populations has most likely resulted in a substantial decline in population numbers.

Given the very small size of the T. mirabile populations, all known populations are considered important for the species' long-term survival (DIPE 2006).

Typhonium mirabile occurs very sporadically in groups in eucalypt woodland on lateritic and sandy soils. It occurs in patches where the leaf litter is sparse or absent, mainly near the bases of young Cycas plants or in shade (e.g. near logs). The species has also been recorded from hillslopes and ridges (DIPE 2006).

Typhonium mirabile occurs in the same general area and habitat type as the closely related threatened plant species T. jonesii, which is also listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act (DIPE 2006).

Fertile material of T. mirabile has only been collected from the wild during December, at which time fruits were recorded. Sterile specimens that were collected in February and grown in cultivation by Northern Territory Herbarium staff (so that identification could be verified), have flowered during October or November. Therefore, from the limited information available, the species appears to complete its reproductive activities very early in the wet season (DIPE 2006).

Some members of the genus Typhonium are vegetatively propagated in cultivation by means of daughter tubers (Mayo et al. 1997). Whether this method of reproduction is applicable to T. mirabile is not known (DIPE 2006).

Typhonium mirabile is difficult to observe due to its small size and its seasonality. Distinguishing features include the blue-green colour of its leaves and the inflorescence and fruits that are often partly subterranean. Access to areas where the species grows is often hampered by seasonal conditions at times when the species is active (DIPE 2006).

It is essential that survey effort for T. mirabile takes place during the build-up to the wet season or throughout the wet season as the above ground annual shoots are dormant during the dry season (DIPE 2006).

The clearing of habitat for plantation forestry development is a potential threat to T. mirabile. Currently, areas within the western half of Melville Island are set aside for land clearing and plantings of Acacia mangium due to the suitability of the areas for forestry (Tiwi LC 2003; Woinarski et al. 2000). The preferred plantation habitat and designated planting region of the western half of Melville coincide with known populations and preferred habitat of T. mirabile. It was recommended that known populations on Melville Island be excluded from areas to be cleared for forestry plantation (Brock et al. 2000). Unfortunately, the largest population, along with another nearby one, were cleared for forestry plantation in 2004 (NT NRETAS 2007).

The eucalypt forests, that the species occurs in, are also affected by the Feral Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), cattle (Bos sp.) and the Horse (Equus ferus caballus). The Pig (Sus scrofa) has recently been discovered on Melville Island and it is recommended that an attempt be made to eradicate it while still in a confined area (DIPE 2006). The tubers of Typhonium mirabile may be uprooted and eaten by the Pig.

Increased clearing, road development and activity in the area around known populations may increase the invasion of exotic plants species such as Mission Grass (Pennisetum polystachion) and Gamba Grass (Andropogon gayanus) (Woinarksi et al. 2003a, 2003b).

Although the underground corm (tuber) and seasonal nature of this species may offer it some protection from fire, the potential effects of increased fire frequency associated with perennial weed invasions are unknown (DIPE 2006).

The following recovery actions have been recommended for the species (TSSC 2006ba):

  • Conduct surveys to provide a more detailed assessment of its distribution, habitat requirements and population size
  • Promote eradication of feral pigs from Melville Island, whilst they are still present in a restricted area
  • Protect known sites from further disturbance.

Further surveys may yield additional populations (DIPE 2006).

A taxonomic revision of this genus in Australia was undertaken by Hay (1993) and Hay and Taylor (1996).

Management documents for the T. mirabile can be found at the start of this profile. Other management documents relevant to the species include:

  • Recovery plan for the threatened plants of the Tiwi islands in the Northern Territory of Australia 2004 - 2009 (Gibbons & Taylor 2003).
  • Biodiversity Conservation on the Tiwi Islands: Plants, vegetation types and terrestrial vertebrates on Melville Island (Woinarski et al. 2000).

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 Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Bubalus bubalis (Water Buffalo, Swamp Buffalo) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Equus caballus (Horse) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Bos taurus (Domestic Cattle) Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2006af) [Listing Advice].

Brock, C., I. Cowie, B. Harwood, G. Leach, D. Milne, S. Stirrat & J. Woinarksi (2000). Plantation proposal, Melville Island: assessment of biodiversity: Report to Northern Territory Department of Lands, Planning and Environment, Tiwi Land Council, and Sylvatech Australia Pty Ltd. Darwin: Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory.

Cowie, I. (2005). Personal Communication. NT Herbarium, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, Darwin.

Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment (DIPE) (2006). Biodiversity Conservation Section, Northern Territory Government.

Gibbons, A. & R. Taylor (2003). Recovery plan for the threatened plants of the Tiwi islands in the Northern Territory of Australia 2004 - 2009. Darwin: Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment.

Hay, A. (1993). The genus Typhonium (Araceae-Areae) in Australasia. Blumea. 37:345-376.

Hay, A. & S.M. Taylor (1996). A new species of Typhonium Schott (Araceae - Areae) from the Northern Territory, with notes on the conservation status of two Areae endemic to the Tiwi Islands. Telopea. 6 (4):563-567.

Mayo, S.J., J. Bogner & P.C. Boyce (1997). The Genera of Araceae. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Northern Territory Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NT NRETAS) (2007). Threatened Species of the Northern Territory - Typhonium mirabile. [Online]. Available from: http://lrm.nt.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species/specieslist.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (2006af). Commonwealth Listing Advice on Typhonium mirabile. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/typhonium-mirabile.html.

Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) (2006ba). NON-APPROVED Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Typhonium mirabile. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/typhonium-mirabile-conservation.pdf.

Tiwi Land Council (Tiwi LC) (2003). Tiwi Land Council Annual Report. [Online]. Available from: http://www.users.bigpond.com/tiwilc/Reports/Tiwi%20Annual%20Report%202003.pdf. [Accessed: 03-Nov-2004].

Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, C. Hempel, M. Armstrong, D. Milne & R. Chatto (2003b). Biodiversity conservation on the Tiwi islands, Northern Territory. Part 2. Fauna. Report to National Heritage Trust, Tiwi Land Council and the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment.

Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, C. Hempel, R. Firth & F. Watt (2000). Biodiversity Conservation on the Tiwi Islands: Plants, vegetation types and terrestrial vertebrates on Melville Island. Palmerston: Parks and Wildlife Commission of Northern Territory.

Woinarski, J., K. Brennan, I. Cowie, R. Kerrigan & C. Hempel (2003a). Biodiversity conservation on the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Part 1. Environment and Plants. Report to National Heritage Trust, Tiwi Land Council and the Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment.

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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). Typhonium mirabile in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:08:21 +1000.