This is a low spreading heathy shrub with a decumbent (lying on the ground, with the tip pointing upward) to erect habit (Harden 1993; Sheringham & Westaway 1995) and ascending branches, 20 to 50 cm high (Quinn et al. 1995). It has red flowers (Harden 1993). The leaves are narrow and sharply pointed, 2 to 3 cm long and have seven to 11 distinct parallel veins. The flowers are a nectar-filled urn or cup. They are small and half-hidden amongst the crowded leaves but are conspicuously red and pink, yellowish at the base, and covered with thick white hairs. Fruits are hard, round and brown to deep red in colour (DECC 2005c).The Hairy Melichrus is restricted to the Glenreagh-Coaldale sandstone belt near Glenreagh on the northcoast of NSW (Harden 1993; Sheringham & Westaway 1995). The major population is at Kremnos Creek, north of Glenreagh and south-southwest of Grafton (Quinn et al. 1995). Population distribution fits roughly within the five general localities referred to by Quinn and colleagues (1995): Banyabba Nature Reserve, Wombat Creek north of Copmanhurst (Vacant Crown Land); Shannon Creek escarpment southwest of Grafton (VCL); two sites north of Glenreagh; roadside near VCL near Flaggy Creek and roadside and VCL near Krenmos Creek. Populations confirmed recently include one in Newfoundland State Forest and another near Pillar Valley (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service 1999an).
Hairy Melichrus |
Melichrus sp. Newfoundland State Forest
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Conservation Advice, Melichrus sp. Newfoundland State Forest
The main factors that make the species eligible for listing in the Endangered category are a restricted area of occupancy which is severely fragmented and continuing to contract due to ongoing threats of habitat loss; disturbance and modification and climate change.
Threats The main threats to the Hairy Melichrus are habitat loss; disturbance and modification and climate change.
Table 2 Threats impacting Hairy Melichrus Threat Status and severity a Evidence Climate change and fire Fire related threats Timing current Climate change projections show that southern Australia is likely to Threatened Species Scientific Committee Melichrus sp.
This type of event is increasingly likely to occur as a result of climate change.
Increased temperature Timing future Climate change projections show that intensity frequency and Confidence inferred Australia s climate will get hotter and change to precipitation drier; with time in drought predicted patterns Consequence major to increase over southern Australia Trend increasing (CSIRO 2015).
Such changes in Extent across the entire range climate may cause widespread changes to forest ecosystems; as many plants are vulnerable to drought stress (Choat et al. 2018).
Fire ecology The Hairy Melichrus is likely to be at risk from impacts of high frequency fires (DAWE 2020b; Kennedy et al. 2020); including disruption to the replenishment of seed banks which are essential to post fire recruitment and subpopulation persistence.
If the Hairy Melichrus has similar fire ecology; post fire seedling recruitment for the species could be very low and sensitive to the season of fire; and some post fire resprouting of established pre fire plants may occur.
Analysis by the Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel; based on intersecting the modelled distribution of the Hairy Melichrus and the National Indicative Aggregated Fire Extent Dataset; indicates that approximately 40 percent of the range of the species was within the extent of the 2019 20 bushfires (DAWE 2020b).
While the Hairy Melichrus has been observed Trend increasing resprouting following fire (AVH Extent across the entire range 2020); mortality rates appear to vary; and the effect of fire on seed germination or the longevity of the soil seed bank for the species is unknown.
The Hairy Melichrus is likely to be at risk from impacts of high fire frequency (DAWE 2020b); which can include disruption to the replenishment of seed banks which are essential to post fire recruitment and subpopulation persistence.