Fauna in the YCA

The Yellingbo Conservation Area (YCA) is being established to assist in the conservation of the area’s significant biodiversity and ecological values, a number of threatened species including the critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeater and the Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum. The Conservation Area will help to safeguard critically endangered species through improving core habitat and targeted restoration projects.

The last wild population of Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) and Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) occur in one small conservation reserve at Yellingbo. The key reason for this decline is deterioration in habitat quality. Given the high likelihood of these genetically important populations becoming extinct in the wild over the coming 10 years, both species have been prioritized by Zoos Victoria for captive-breeding and release. Given their tendency to occupy the same environment, conservation investment for one population invariably benefits the other.  (Zoos Victoria, 2014, p. 15).

In 2012 the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) compiled a list of threatened fauna species recorded in the Yellingbo Investigation Area (VEAC, 2012, pp. 76-77). Some of the most endangered species are listed below.

Helmeted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix)

State Emblem: The Helmeted Honeyeater was proclaimed as the Victorian Government’s Bird Emblem on March 10th, 1971.

The Helmeted Honeyeater is listed as:

Concern for the survival status of the Helmeted Honeyeater has been a constant focus since 1952 when the first survey of this bird species was undertaken. The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 had a devastating effect on small isolated populations of the Helmeted Honeyeater in the Upper Beaconsfield and Gembrook areas, and the last remaining wild population of this species became isolated in the Yellingbo area. The Helmeted Honeyeaters are currently confined to less than 80 ha of riparian and floodplain forest along two separate creeks (Garnett et al., 2018,  p.229).

A coordinated recovery program for the Helmeted Honeyeater began in 1989 following formation of a Recovery Team, the Friends Group, preparation of the first Recovery Plan, and the establishment of a captive breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary (Garnett et al., 2018,  p.229). The  Zoos Victoria captive breeding program aims to: “supplement wild populations through captive breeding for reintroduction; and maintain an insurance population in captivity.”

The Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Program successfully integrates the collaborative effort of multiple partners – including the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Zoos Victoria, Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, Parks Victoria, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA), Melbourne Water, Birdlife Australia, Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee (YCACC), Yarra Ranges Council, and Monash University – to help bring this unique bird back from the brink of extinction.

For more information see:

Check out the photo gallery on the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater website here.

…and here are some other birds you may see in the YCA

 

Leadbeater’s Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri)

State Emblem: The Leadbeater’s Possum was proclaimed as the Victorian Government’s Animal Emblem on March 2nd, 1971.

The Leadbeater’s Possum is listed as:

In 1965 the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve was set aside to conserve the Helmeted Honeyeater. During a bird survey in 1986 Leadbeater’s Possums (LBP) were discovered inhabiting the same lowland swamp forest that provides habitat for Helmeted Honeyeaters in the YNCR.  In 2003 Birgita Hansen commenced a PhD into LBP’s genetics (including approx 200 samples  from Yellingbo ). Research results in 2008 determined that the important extant wild population of the Leadbeater’s possum discovered in atypical habitat (lowland swamp) at Yellingbo ‘does not share recent ancestry with other extant populations and instead may be a remnant of an otherwise extinct gene pool. Importantly, this may include genes involved in adaptation to a lowland swamp environment, substantially adding to the conservation importance of this population, and suggesting that separate management may be prudent until evidence suggests otherwise.’ (Hensen & Taylor, 2008).

Approximately 40 Lowland Leadbeater’s Possums are known to remain in the wild – all at Yellingbo.  The Zoos Victoria captive breeding program aims to: “collect founders from the wild for captive breeding; establish a successful insurance population that can support future re-introductions to the wild; monitor wild populations; protect critical habitat; develop strategic partnerships to enhance habitat conditions; develop reintroduction techniques; raise community awareness about Leadbeater’s Possum and support for its conservation.”

Habitat restoration in the Yellingbo Conservation Area (YCA) is an essential component of the recovery program and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Zoos Victoria, Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, Friends of the Leadbeater’s Possum, Parks Victoria, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA), Melbourne Water, Yellingbo Conservation Area Coordinating Committee (YCACC), Yarra Ranges Council, and others are assisting with habitat recovery projects e.g. hydrology and revegetation projects – to help bring this tiny marsupial back from the brink of extinction.

For more information see:

 

Other Threatened Species

In 2012 the Victorian Investigation Assessment Council compiled a list of threatened fauna species recorded in the Yellingbo Investigation Area (VEAC, 2012, pp. 76-77). Some are listed below.

Australian Grayling (Prototroctes maraena) – see  Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 257

Dandenong Burrowing Crayfish (Engaeus urostrictus)  – see  Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 264

Dandenong Freshwater Amphipod (Austrogammarus australis) – see  Fauna and Flora Guarantee Action Statement No. 3

Dwarf Galaxias (Galaxiella pusilla) – see   Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 258

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) – see  Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 92

Sherbrooke Amphipod (Austrogammarus haasei) – see  Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 110  and case study.

Images from the YCA

Powerful Owl. Ninox strenua. Photographed in YCA (image B.Tardif)

Powerful Owl – Ninox strenua. (image B.Tardif)

 

Grey Fantail - Rhipidura albiscapa nestlings YNCR (image B.Tardif)

Grey Fantail – Rhipidura albiscapa nestlings (image B.Tardif)

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo - Chrysococcyx lucidus YNCR (image B.Tardif)

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo – Chrysococcyx lucidus (image B.Tardif)

Agile Antechinus - Antechinus agilis Blue site YNCR (image B.Tardif)

Agile Antechinus – Antechinus agilis (image B.Tardif)

Tawny Frogmouth - Podargus strigoides (image B.Tardif)

Tawny Frogmouth – Podargus strigoides (image B.Tardif)

White-necked Heron - Ardea pacifica. Yellingbo (image B.Tardif)

White-necked Heron – Ardea pacifica (image B.Tardif)

Yellow-faced Honeyeater -Lichenostomus chrysops. White site YNCR (image B.Tardif)

Yellow-faced Honeyeater -Lichenostomus chrysops (image B.Tardif)

Helmeted Honeyeater -Lichenostomus melanops cassidix fledglings (image B.Tardif)

Beautiful Firetail - Stagonopleura bella YNCR (image B.Tardif)

Beautiful Firetail – Stagonopleura bella (image B.Tardif)

For other wildlife you may see in the YCA check out the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater website here.

 

Victorian Biodiversity Atlas

Spotted fauna in YCA?  VBA Go is the new mobile tool that links directly to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.  We need your wildlife sightings.  Can you help make a difference?  Find out more about VBA Go on our Biodiversity & Conservation page.

 

Resources

Fauna

ACTS

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) (Cth) (Austl).  Retrieved from https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A00485.

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (Cth) (Austl).  Retrieved from https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A00485.

Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic) (Austl). Retrieved from http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/LTObject_Store/LTObjSt4.nsf/DDE300B846EED9C7CA257616000A3571/85925CC790ACABB8CA257761002DA8F2/$FILE/75-8699a076.pdf.

 

REFERENCES

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Bradsworth, N., White, J. G., Isaac, B., & Cooke, R. (2017). Species Distribution Models Derived from Citizen Science Data Predict the Fine Scale Movements of Owls in an Urbanizing Landscape. Biological Conservation, 213(Part A), 27-35. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.06.039

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Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). (2015). Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 257: Australian Grayling (Prototroctes maraena). Melbourne: State Government of Victoria. Retrieved from https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/33024/Australian-Grayling_action-statement.pdf.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). (2015). Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 258: Dwarf Galaxias (Galaxiella pusilla). Melbourne: State Government of Victoria. Retrieved from https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/33030/Dwarf-Galaxias_action-statement.pdf.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). (2015). Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 Action Statement No. 264: Dandenong Burrowing Crayfish (Engaeus urostrictus). Melbourne: State Government of Victoria. Retrieved from https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/33079/Dandenong-Burrowing-Crayfish-Engaeus-urostrictus.pdf.

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