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Plight of the Pomaderris
Pomaderris is a genus of approximately 70 species that are found only in Australia and New Zealand. The 65 Australian Pomaderris species are spread mainly across south-eastern Australia. Many of the species have a restricted distribution and some are listed as rare or threatened under state and commonwealth legislation. A significant threat facing many Pomaderris species is the limited distribution and low abundance of plants. Additionally, many plants are sterile, produce few seeds and/or are erratic seed producers. Predation of seed and lack of recruitment are also threats to some populations and species.
|Pomaderris intermedia in bloom (Photo: Murray Fagg, ANBG).|
The Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) is leading a collaborative partnership of government bodies, research institutions, national parks, land managers, custodians and botanic gardens who are contributing to a Pomaderris conservation project funded by the NSW Environment Trust. The three-year project will involve the collection of seed and cutting material from Pomaderris populations across NSW and the ACT.
Seed and cutting material will be collected from more than five species, but sampling of many populations will occur. Land managers, national park rangers and land custodians will serve as the ‘eyes on the ground’ in key collecting areas, identifying when to plan collections of Pomaderris that are producing seed. Variation in seasons, weather and seed production means there is no guarantee that seed will be available across all populations, so risk mitigation strategies become increasingly important in these circumstances. For this project, a newly developed methodology using cuttings and seeds from maternal lines is being adopted to mitigate these potential risks. Genetic analysis of the populations will be conducted by the project’s collaborative research team from the ANBG, CSIRO, The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan and the University of Wollongong. The researchers will also investigate the seed germination ecology of each species to identify those with the most restricted germination ability. This information is important for future translocation efforts and land management as it can identify which populations should not be mixed.
The first of many collecting trips was undertaken in August 2016 at Merimbula, NSW. Nursery and Seed Bank staff from ANBG shared this new methodology in taking cuttings and installing seed bags with the collecting team. This training will enable project partners from the ACT Government, Wollongong Botanic Gardens, The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, Booderee Botanic Gardens and Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Gardens to undertake this specialised collecting in a consistent way, which will ensure scientific rigor for the collection component of the project.
|Seeds of Pomaderris pallida under the microscope (Photo: Brook Clinton, ANBG).|
The outcomes of this work will inform future restoration efforts, land management and more broadly guide management of the genus to better secure its future. This project is also likely to have implications and opportunities for the management and conservation of other threatened and significant species. The methodology can be adapted to suit other species facing similar reproductive challenges, and the collection of plant material, rather than seed, is a technique that may be applied where access to seed resources is limited. The linkages formed between the key partners and stakeholders involved in this work are also important for future work, as they can advocate for the importance of this research and take shared ownership over the conservation achievements. This will help to improve conservation trajectories for Pomaderris and a range of other Australian plants.
The ANBG is currently upgrading its Pomaderris garden section, which will display many beautiful Pomaderris species and help to raise the profile of this genus, as well as showcasing the great conservation outcomes of this project. This garden will be completed in parallel with the Pomaderris project.
For more on this story you can watch The Plight of the Pomaderris - Part 1 (filmed by Richard Snashall).