Caladenia audasii has less than 8 plants remaining in the wild. It is endangered under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988).
Three of these plants fall within the Grampians National Park and associated reserves (two of which were discovered in community surveys in 2016). These plants urgently need supplementation to remain as viable populations into the future. With such low numbers left in the wild, the populations are not sustainable and every plant has critical importance for the long term recovery and genetic resources for this species. Pollinator identification is also critical to manage the ecology of this species and reduce incidental harm to the pollinator through ignorance of its habitat requirements.
Under a previous grant, the ANPC worked with the Friends of Grampians Gariwerd (FOGG) and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) to fence the one remaining Caladenia audasii plant in a reserve near Stawell, an action which resulted in no grazing impacts and the first ever seed being collected for propagation. The RBGV then worked with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to propagate and re-introduce 50 plants back into another population near Bendigo.
This project, funded by DELWP through its Biodiversity On-ground Action grants from November 2017 until March 2020, will involve:
- Fencing of the newly discovered plants at one site in the Grampians to protect them from grazing kangaroos, wallabies and rabbits.
- Identification of the pollinator for this orchid and its distribution, through guided volunteer pollinator baiting work (assisted by RBGV and ANPC staff).
- Seed collection from the fenced sites.
- Propagation of Caladenia audasii seedlings by RBGV.
- Re-introduction of approximately 200 plants, with community volunteer assistance from FOGG and the Australasian Native Orchid Society (Victoria Group) Inc.
- Installation of cages around reintroduced plants.
- Guided community surveys (over 500 hectares) near the two newly discovered sites for any additional plants that may not have been seen previously.
- Using the data collected to update IUCN listings, the Atlas of Living Australia, the Australian Virtual Herbarium and the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.
- Training of volunteers in survey techniques, plant reintroductions and pollinator baiting.
- Community participation and education in an endangered plant reintroduction - an important element of reintroduction success as it engenders local ownership and ongoing interest in the species and surrounding habitat.
Contact the ANPC for further information.
Left: Caladenia audasii growing in the wild. (Photo: Julie Whitfield). Right: Caladenia audasii germinations in the RBGV Orchid Conservation Program laboratory. (Photo: Noushka Reiter).