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Threatened species and communities

What are threatened species?

Threatened plant and animal species are those which may be vulnerable to extinction in the wild due to low populations, highly restricted distributions and habitats or continued threatening processes. Threatened species are a widely used indicator of the status of biodiversity. Criterion 9 of the World Heritage Convention recognises threatened species as part of biodiversity values.

 

Threatened species in the Wet Tropics

The Wet Tropics is has a high proportion of threatened species, many of which are also rare or endemic. They include some iconic species such as the southern cassowary and the mahogany glider, but most of them are little known, particularly the plants, frogs and invertebrates. The high level of threatened species is related to the unique evolution of the flora and fauna in the Wet Tropics, as well as loss of habitat due to forest clearing and changes to water and fire regimes.

 

Legislative categories

It can be hard keeping up with the number of listed species because the categories and specific criteria may change. For instance, 'rare' is no longer a category for threatened species under the Nature Conservation Act 1992

Species classed as endangered and vulnerable are considered to have endured population declines and to be at immediate risk of disappearing from the wild as a result of threatening processes. The high proportion of presumed extinct, endangered and vulnerable plants found in the Wet Tropics, compared to the rest of Queensland, reflects the vulnerability, small population size and restricted distribution of many of the region’s locally endemic plants and the pattern and legacy of past forest clearing. The presumed extinct species, in general, have not been recorded for over 50 years.

Rare species are not presently considered threatened per se. However, rare species have small geographic ranges or low local abundances, patchily distributed within their ranges. These attributes can place them at risk. Plant and animal species are listed under the following categories under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) or the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA).

 

EPBC Act Nature Conservation Act
  • Extinct
  • Extinct in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Conservation dependant
  • Not listed
  • Extinct in the wild
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Least concern
  • Not protected

 

Recovery plans and threatening processes

Recovery Plans may be developed for threatened animals, plants and ecological communities listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. They set out the research and management actions necessary to stop the decline of a species and how to support its recovery. Recovery Plans have been developed for the following species and vegetation communties:

  • cave-dwelling bats (Rhinolophus philippinensis, Hipposideros semoni and Taphozous troughtoni)
  • giant filmy fern (Chingia australia)
  • mabi forest
  • magnificent broodfrog
  • mahogany glider
  • northern bettong
  • stream dwelling rainforest frogs of the Wet Tropics (sharp-snouted day frog, northern tinker frog, armoured mistfrog, waterfall frog, mountain mistfrog, common mistfrog and Australian lacelid.
  • southern cassowary
  • spectacled flying fox
  • spotted-tailed quoll

Recovery plans are yet to be prepared for these two endangered ecological communities:

  • Broad leaf tea‑tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal north Queensland
  • Littoral rainforests and coastal vine thickets of eastern Australia

Some key threatening processes affecting the Wet Tropics are also recognised under the EPBC Act:

  • Dieback caused by the root-rot fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi)
  • Infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis
  • Invasion of northern Australia by gamba grass and other introduced grasses
  • Loss and degradation of native plant and animal habitat by invasion of escaped garden plants, including aquatic plants
  • Loss of terrestrial climatic habitat caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs
  • The biological effects, including lethal toxic ingestion, caused by cane toads


See the managing threatened species page for details about how we can help threatened species.

 

Listed threatened species in the Wet Tropics

The tables in the section below shows current categories and numbers of threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and the Nature Conservation Act 1992 in June 2015. Species with recovery plans under the EPBC Act are listed further below.

 

Wet Tropics fauna and flora listed under the EPBC Act (June 2015). Numbers in brackets are the number of species endemic to the Wet Tropics.

  Extinct Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable Total
Fauna 1 (1) 4 (2) 19 (8) 9 (3) 33 (14)
Flora 11 (4) 4 (1) 28 (15) 40 (19) 83 (39)

 

Wet Tropics fauna and flora listed under the NCA (June 2015). Numbers in brackets are the number of species endemic to the Wet Tropics.

  Extinct Endangered Vulnerable Total
Fauna 0 20 (10) 30 (12) 50 (22)
Flora 13 (5) 49 (27) 130 (83) 192 (115)

 

Summary table of the listed threatened animals and plants of the Wet Tropics under the EPBC Act (June 2015).

Numbers in brackets are the number of species endemic to the Wet Tropics.

Animals
Extinct
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable Total
Amphibians 1 (1) 2 (2) 5 (5) 1 (1) 9 (9)
Birds     7 (0) 4 (0) 11 (0)
Insects          
Mammals   1 (0) 6 (2) 2 (1) 9 (3)
Reptiles       2 (1) 2 (1)
Freshwater fish   1 (0) 1 (1)   2 (1)
Total 1 (1) 4 (2) 19 (8) 9 (3) 33 (14)
Plants



 
Club mosses 2 (0) 1 (0) 2 (0)  3 (2) 8 (2)
Cycads       1 (0) 1 (0)
Ferns 5 (1)   4 (1) 7 (3) 16 (5)
Higher dicots 1 (1) 3 (1) 7 (4) 22 (13) 33 (19)
Lower dicots     2 (2)   2 (2)
Monocots 2 (2)   13 (8) 7 (1) 22 (11)
Whisk ferns 1 (0)       1 (0)
Total
11 (4) 4 (1) 28 (15) 40 (19) 83 (39)

 

 

 

Summary table of the listed threatened animals and plants of the Wet Tropics under the NCA (June 2015).

Numbers in brackets are the number of species endemic to the Wet Tropics.

Animals
Extinct
Endangered
Vulnerable
Total
Amphibians   7 (7) 8 (6) 15 (13)
Birds   6 (0) 9 (0) 15 (0)
Insects     1 (0) 1 (0)
Mammals   6 (2) 5 (2) 11 (4)
Reptiles   1 (1) 7 (4) 8 (5)
Total
0
20 (10) 30 (12) 50 (22)
Plants




Club mosses 2 (0) 3 (0) 4 (2) 9 (2)
Cycads     1 (0) 1 (0)
Ferns 5 (1) 5 (1) 22 (12) 32 (14)
Higher dicots 3 (2) 23 (15) 75 (54) 101 (71)
Lower dicots   2 (2) 8 (8) 10 (10)
Monocots 2 (2) 16 (9) 20 (7) 38 (18)
Whisk ferns 1 (0)     1 (0)
Total
13 (5) 49 (27) 130 (83) 192 (115)

 

 

 

News and Events

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News and Events

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Wet Tropics Ministerial Forum meet in Sydney

Wet Tropics Ministerial Forum meet in Sydney

World Heritage listed rainforests of the Wet Tropics were the subject of discussion when the Wet Tropics Ministerial Forum held its 26th meeting ... READ MORE

Revival of Rainforest Aboriginal News

Revival of Rainforest Aboriginal News

In collaboration with Terrain NRM, the Authority has revamped the Rainforest Aboriginal News. Check out the new first edition.... READ MORE

Conservation success stories: updating the Red List

Conservation success stories: updating the Red List

Some good news stories coming out of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress... READ MORE