South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister

preliminary lichen report

- G. Kantvilas

As discussed I have now compiled a preliminary species list of lichens from South Sister, based on field work conducted there by Professor Jack Elix (A.N.U. Canberra) and me in November 2004. The survey was systematic in so far as we targeted specific habitats on the peak, but is by no means exhaustive, representing only two part-days in the field. I would anticipate many additions to the list given more time in the area.

Although we briefly examined the proposed logging area in the vicinity of the short loop track, we concentrated our efforts on the South Sister summit area. Our view was that this was where the greatest concentration of significant lichen habitats occurred, and where access was easiest. Of course one would anticipate that at least some of these habitats also occur within the proposed logging area.

The list includes 178 species, representing a remarkable level of diversity. However, it should be noted that there are very few other surveys with which to compare these figures to, apart from those from Mt Sprent where 141 lichens were recorded (Kantvilas & Jarman 1991).

As I explained previously, no lichens that are currently listed under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 were recorded. The list nevertheless includes several very interesting records worthy of comment:

Coccocarpia erythroxyli
This species is very uncommon in Tasmania and a nomination to list it is currently in preparation. Despite targeted searches over more than two decades by me, and a review of thousands of herbarium specimens, the species is known only from three other locations. Although rather widespread on the Mainland and the tropics, in Tasmania it occurs as an epiphyte in narrow remnant wet gully vegetation (usually dominated by Notelaea) on the East Coast. The populations on the slopes of South Sister are the best I am aware of.

Coccocarpia pellita
This is a new record for Tasmania, and the species is thus known only from South Sister. Given that such a conspicuous lichen has never been found previously in Tasmania, and even at South Sister it was represented by a few individuals only, it is certainly worthy of nomination for listing.

Punctelia sp.
This species, related to the widespread P. borreri, is new species which will be described shortly by Jack Elix, a world specialist in this group of lichens (the family Parmeliaceae).
Jack knows it also from a single specimen from New Zealand. Given that Jack and I, together with Jean Jarman, have recently completed a State-wide survey of this family and not picked up this species before, I would conclude it is likely to be very rare.

Xanthoparmelia canobolasensis
This very rare lichen is known in the world only from Mt. Canobolas in New South Wales, from a granite outcrop near Falmouth, and now from South Sister. Again, given that the genus Xanthoparmelia was extensively surveyed recently, resulting in but one Tasmanian record at the time, I conclude that this species is rare and I intend to nominate it for listing shortly.

There are several other lichens on the list that are also of particular interest and have not been recorded in Tasmania before, but as they are rather inconspicuous, I feel that much additional work would be required to make further comment about them. Incidentally, the names in bold on the list simply represent lichens contributed to the survey solely by Jack Elix and where I have yet to see the specimens.

In conclusion, I feel that South Sister has a remarkable lichen flora which includes several very unusual species both in Tasmanian and a wider context. Some of these may well occur in the logging zone, although this remains unsurveyed at this stage. I would have thought that, given the clear indications that the area is lichenologically significant, a thorough, professional lichen survey of the coupe would be worthwhile, or even essential in order to be able to sensibly comment on its biodiversity values (or lack thereof).

Even if the unusual species are confined only to the areas excluded from logging, I would think some specific management prescriptions would be required that the logging and burning that will take place would not impinge adversely on the microclimate of the immediate surrounding area.

I hope the above and attached are of use to you. Jack and I intend to eventually publish the species list in a local journal, where it can serve as a benchmark for future surveys.

Dr. Gintaras Kantvilas
Head of Herbarium
(A Department of the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery)
January 31, 2005

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