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<strong>Surveys</strong> <strong>for</strong> <strong>arboreal</strong> <strong>mammals</strong>, <strong>Long</strong>-<strong>Footed</strong><br />

<strong>Potoroo</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish in proposed<br />

logging coupes 840-502-0015 <strong>and</strong> 840-502-<br />

0019, Brown Mountain Creek Catchment,<br />

Brodribb Forest Block, Errinundra Plateau<br />

January-March 2009


Published by the Victorian Government Department of Sustainability <strong>and</strong> Environment. Melbourne, August 2009<br />

© The State of Victoria Department of Sustainability <strong>and</strong> Environment 2009.<br />

This publication is copyright. No part may be reproduced by any process except in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968.<br />

Authorised by the Victorian Government, 8 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne.<br />

ISBN 978-1-74242-151-3<br />

For more in<strong>for</strong>mation contact the DSE Customer Service Centre 136 186.<br />

Disclaimer<br />

This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria <strong>and</strong> its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw<br />

of any kind or is wholly appropriate <strong>for</strong> your particular purposes <strong>and</strong> there<strong>for</strong>e disclaims all liability <strong>for</strong> any error, loss or other consequence<br />

which may arise from you relying on any in<strong>for</strong>mation in this publication.


SURVEYS FOR ARBOREAL MAMMALS, LONG-FOOTED<br />

POTOROO AND SPINY CRAYFISH IN PROPOSED LOGGING<br />

COUPES 840-502-0015 AND 840-502-0019, BROWN<br />

MOUNTAIN CREEK CATCHMENT, BRODRIBB FOREST BLOCK,<br />

ERRINUNDRA PLATEAU, JANUARY-MARCH 2009<br />

Stephen Henry <strong>and</strong> Tony Mitchell<br />

Biodiversity Group<br />

Department of Sustainability <strong>and</strong> Environment<br />

Orbost Office<br />

Background<br />

Brown Mountain Creek is a small catchment (approximately 450 ha) on the edge<br />

of the Errinundra Plateau in East Gippsl<strong>and</strong>. With the exception of about 50 ha at<br />

the northern end of the catchment which is part of The Gap Scenic Reserve, the<br />

area is State <strong>for</strong>est which is General Management Zone in the East Gippsl<strong>and</strong><br />

Forest Management Plan. The part of the catchment west of Legge Road is in the<br />

North Goongerah Icon Area identified <strong>for</strong> addition to National Park as part of the<br />

2006 Labour Party Election policy plat<strong>for</strong>m.<br />

The vegetation of the catchment is mapped as Wet Forest dominated by Shining<br />

Gum <strong>and</strong> Messmate with scattered Errinundra Peppe rmint.<br />

In 2007 three coupes (the two subject to this survey <strong>and</strong> 840-502-0020) were<br />

approved as part of an amendment to the East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> Timber Release Plan.<br />

Between October 2008 <strong>and</strong> January 2009 coupe 840-502-0020 was harvested <strong>and</strong><br />

the other two were scheduled to be harvested in late summer <strong>and</strong> early autumn.<br />

Conservation groups conducted protests in coupe 840-502-0020 while it was being<br />

logged. They also conducted or sponsored surveys in the other proposed coupes<br />

targeting <strong>arboreal</strong> <strong>mammals</strong>, large <strong>for</strong>est owls, <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s <strong>and</strong> Orbost<br />

<strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish. All these animals have prescriptions <strong>for</strong> the protection of sites<br />

through Action Statements or the East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> Forest Area Management Plan.<br />

These surveys indicated that sufficient Greater Gliders <strong>and</strong> Yellow-bellied Gliders<br />

may be present to trigger the prescription <strong>for</strong> protection of the surrounding <strong>for</strong>est.<br />

1


The surveys also claimed to have found evidence of <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s <strong>and</strong> the<br />

presence of the Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish.<br />

DSE Biodiversity Group staff were instructed to undertake surveys to investigate<br />

the reports.<br />

The status of target species <strong>and</strong> relevant prescriptions<br />

Arboreal Mammals – Greater Gliders <strong>and</strong> Yellow-bellied Gliders<br />

The Greater Gliders <strong>and</strong> Yellow-bellied Glider are not listed on Flora <strong>and</strong> Fauna<br />

Guarantee Act 1988 or the Advisory List Of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna In<br />

Victoria (DSE 2007).<br />

Greater Gliders are found in <strong>for</strong>est from Victoria to Queensl<strong>and</strong>. They den in tree<br />

hollows, eat eucalypt leaves <strong>and</strong> are most abundant in Wet Forest.<br />

Yellow-bellied Gliders are found in <strong>for</strong>est in South Australia, Victoria, New South<br />

Wales <strong>and</strong> Queensl<strong>and</strong>. They also den in tree hollows <strong>and</strong> eat eucalypt sap,<br />

insects, nectar, honeydew <strong>and</strong> pollen. They utilise a wide variety of <strong>for</strong>est types.<br />

Both species are regarded as sensitive to intensive logging.<br />

No Action Statements exist <strong>for</strong> Greater Gliders or Yellow-bellied Gliders as they are<br />

not listed under FFG Act.<br />

The East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> Forest Management Plan prescription <strong>for</strong> <strong>arboreal</strong> <strong>mammals</strong> is:<br />

“Arboreal <strong>mammals</strong>. For each of the following occurrences, approximately 100<br />

ha of suitable habitat will be included in the SPZ (Special Protection Zone):<br />

- resident Koala populations.<br />

- Greater Glider <strong>and</strong> Common Brushtail Possum - >2 individuals per ha, >10<br />

per km, or >15 per hour of spotlighting.<br />

- Yellow-bellied Glider - >0.2 per ha, >5 per km, or >7 per hour of<br />

spotlighting.<br />

- Eastern Pygmy Possum - >5 per st<strong>and</strong>ard pitfall line over 5 days.<br />

- substantial populations of the above species that are isolated or in unusual<br />

habitat.”<br />

Previous surveys<br />

2


DSE undertook extensive flora <strong>and</strong> fauna surveys across East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> from<br />

1983-1993.<br />

The Brown Mountain Creek catchment is in Brodribb Forest Block which received a<br />

prelogging survey in 1986 (report no 19). This site of the proposed coupes was<br />

not surveyed <strong>for</strong> <strong>arboreal</strong> <strong>mammals</strong>, nor was it identified as a Site of Significance.<br />

The extreme northern end of the catchment was identified as a Site of<br />

Significance. This is now part of The Gap Scenic Reserve.<br />

In 25.6 hours of spotlighting during the survey undertaken in 1986, 5 Greater<br />

Gliders <strong>and</strong> 13 Yellow-bellied Gliders were detected. No sites had observed<br />

<strong>arboreal</strong> <strong>mammals</strong> densities which met above thresholds <strong>for</strong> high density.<br />

Environment East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> states that surveys undertaken on 22-25 January<br />

2009 achieve the glider densities required <strong>for</strong> this prescription to be applied.<br />

Neither DSE or VicForests routinely undertake pre-logging coupe surveys.<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong><br />

The <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong> is listed on Flora <strong>and</strong> Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 <strong>and</strong> it is<br />

listed in the Advisory List Of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna In Victoria (DSE 2007)<br />

as endangered.<br />

It is also listed as endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection<br />

<strong>and</strong> Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s are restricted to the <strong>for</strong>ests of Great Dividing Range in<br />

eastern Victoria. They are ground dwelling <strong>and</strong> are strongly associated with <strong>for</strong>est<br />

with a dense understorey. They live almost entirely on hypogeous fungi. There<br />

are about 60 confirmed <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong> site in East Gippsl<strong>and</strong>.<br />

Prescription<br />

An Action Statement (No 58) was published in 1995.<br />

Under the current Action Statement, <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong> sites generate a Special<br />

Management Area (SMA) of 450-500 ha until 17,500 ha of SMAs is reached.<br />

Timber harvesting <strong>and</strong> new roading is not permitted in SMAs. Each SMA is to have<br />

3


a core zone of 150 - 200 ha. Once 17,500 ha is reached, any new sites are to be<br />

assessed <strong>for</strong> habitat quality <strong>and</strong> the SMA system adjusted so that in lesser priority<br />

sites the core zone is protected, <strong>and</strong> 17,500 ha is not exceeded.<br />

17,500 ha of SMAs was reached several years ago <strong>and</strong> new sites found since then<br />

have generated the adjustment process.<br />

In this case any SMA would include the two proposed coupes on either side of<br />

Brown Mountain Creek.<br />

The Action Statement is currently under review. Under the proposed revised<br />

Action Statement, a record such as this would generate a 150 ha Special<br />

Management Zone of which a minimum of 50 ha of the best <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong><br />

habitat would be protected from disturbance.<br />

DSE undertook extensive flora <strong>and</strong> fauna surveys across East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> from<br />

1983-1993. Brown Mountain Creek catchment is in Brodribb Forest Block which<br />

received a prelogging survey in 1986 (report no 19). This particular site was not<br />

surveyed <strong>for</strong> LFP. It was not identified as a Site of Significance.<br />

There have been extensive systematic <strong>and</strong> ad hoc targeted surveys <strong>for</strong> <strong>Long</strong>footed<br />

<strong>Potoroo</strong>s in East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> since 1985. The Brown Mountain area west of<br />

Legge Road was surveyed in 2001 <strong>and</strong> a <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong> was confirmed.<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s have also been detected at two sites along Errinundra Rd<br />

since 2000. No surveys <strong>for</strong> these animals have been undertaken by DSE in this<br />

area since.<br />

Environment East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> reported to DSE on 3 February 2009 that a <strong>Long</strong>footed<br />

<strong>Potoroo</strong>s had been detected (using hairtubing). The hair sample was<br />

identified as <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s by an expert in this field (Barbara Triggs).<br />

The sample was reported as collected within 100m of Brown Mountain Creek at<br />

approx grid ref 6560 E 58744. This is on the western side of Brown Mountain Ck<br />

on the edge of proposed coupe 840-502-0019.<br />

Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish<br />

Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish is listed as threatened under the Flora <strong>and</strong> Fauna Guarantee<br />

Act 1988.<br />

4


No invertebrates are listed in Advisory List Of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna In<br />

Victoria (DSE 2007).<br />

An action statement (no 128) has been prepared <strong>for</strong> the Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish.<br />

The action statement prescription is “Linear Reserves consisting of an undisturbed<br />

buffer of approximately 100m on each bank of the stream <strong>for</strong> one kilometre<br />

upstream <strong>and</strong> downstream of the detection site will be established at all sites on<br />

public l<strong>and</strong> where Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish are recorded … These measures will be<br />

reviewed once 20 sites have been located.”<br />

<strong>Surveys</strong> <strong>for</strong> freshwater crayfish in the presumed distribution of the OSC have<br />

occurred periodically between 1986 <strong>and</strong> the present. The species is recorded from<br />

12 sites in the upper Brodribb River catchment <strong>and</strong> 1 site in Y<strong>and</strong>own Creek in the<br />

Queensborough River catchment. There are no records of previous surveys in<br />

Brown Mountain Creek.<br />

The <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish genus comprises many closely related species which are<br />

difficult to tell apart. Three species occur in East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> the Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong><br />

Crayfish is very similar to one of these, Bidwalls <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish. Identification of<br />

these species requires the animal to be in-h<strong>and</strong> or high quality photographs of the<br />

appropriate features. The taxonomy of this group is apparently under review at<br />

present.<br />

Environment East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> reported the collection of an Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish on<br />

6 January 2009. The specimen linked to this report was identified by DSE on<br />

13/1/09 as a Bidawal <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish (Euastacus bidawalus).<br />

Environment East Gippsl<strong>and</strong> reported record of 2 nd suspected Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong><br />

Crayfish specimen on 10 th January. EEG was to provide photographs to DSE <strong>and</strong><br />

return specimen to stream. DSE did not receive photographs.<br />

DSE received advice from EEG on 27 January 2009 that a 3 rd Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish<br />

specimen had been located. Photographs of the specimen were provided to DSE,<br />

however, the photos were not adequate to accurately determine the identity of the<br />

species.<br />

5


DSE Survey Program<br />

Greater Glider <strong>and</strong> Yellow-bellied Glider (<strong>and</strong> other nocturnal<br />

vertebrates)<br />

DSE conducted surveys on the nights of 21 January, 5 February <strong>and</strong> 12 March.<br />

Personnel involved were Tony Mitchell (all surveys), Stephen Henry (all surveys),<br />

Lucy Clausen (5 February) <strong>and</strong> Jonathon Ricciardello (5 February). Barry Vaughan<br />

(VicForest Regional Manager, East Gippsl<strong>and</strong>) accompanied the survey team on 5<br />

February.<br />

Methods<br />

The surveyors operated in pairs. The selected transects were at least one km<br />

long. Each transect was walked slowly by the surveyors <strong>and</strong> the trees surveyed<br />

with 50 watt portable spotlights. Animals were located by sighting or sound<br />

(either call or movement). Both surveyors checked the identity of a sighting or<br />

call. Locations were recorded by GPS <strong>and</strong> in a notebook.<br />

Greater Gliders are fairly sedentary <strong>and</strong> are generally readily detected by their<br />

bright eyeshine in a spotlight.<br />

Yellow-bellied Gliders are much more difficult to see but have loud calls. However<br />

they are very mobile <strong>and</strong> it can be difficult to distinguish different individuals<br />

based on calls unless the calls are detected more or less simultaneously. Thus<br />

counts of individuals were conservative.<br />

Other species detected were also recorded.<br />

6


Results<br />

Summary of animals detected (<strong>and</strong> numbers per km <strong>for</strong> species with a<br />

prescription) is in Table 1. The attached map(s) indicate the locations of detections<br />

<strong>and</strong> details of detections are provided in the Appendix.<br />

Table 1 – Nocturnal animals detected by spotlighting in the study area.<br />

Date: 28.1.09 5.2.09 5.2.09 5.2.09 5.2.09 12.3.08<br />

Time: 2135-0130 2105-2400 0030-0315 2115-2400 0040-0330 1950-2355<br />

Observers: TM, SH JR, SH, BV JR, BV, SH TM, LC TM, LC TM, SH<br />

Route: Transect 1<br />

1100m<br />

(no/km)<br />

Transect 1<br />

1100m<br />

(no/km)<br />

Transect 2<br />

1800m<br />

(no/km)<br />

7<br />

Transect 2<br />

1800m<br />

(no/km)<br />

Transect 1<br />

1100m<br />

(no/km)<br />

Transect 3<br />

1000m<br />

(no/km)<br />

Greater Glider 10 (9.1) 10 (9.1) 3 (1.7) 6 (3.3) 9 (8.2) 11 (11)<br />

Yellow-bellied Glider 5 (4.5) 4 (3.6) 8 (4.4) 9 (5) 4 (3.6) 7 (7)<br />

Bobuck 3 1 2 5 5 3<br />

Sugar Glider 0 2 1 1<br />

Common Ringtail 1<br />

Feathertail Glider 1 1<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-nosed B<strong>and</strong>icoot 1 1 1<br />

Boobook Owl 2 1 1 2<br />

Powerful Owl 1 (distant)<br />

Owlet Nightjar 1 1 2 3 2<br />

Tawny Frogmouth 1<br />

Numbers above prescription threshold in bold<br />

Transect 1 – 1.1 km long. Legge Rd along western edge of proposed coupe 840-502-0015 <strong>and</strong> in<strong>for</strong>mal<br />

walking track through proposed coupe from Legge Rd to Brown Mountain Creek.<br />

Transect 2 – 1.8 km long. Dozer track around boundary of proposed coupe 840-502-0019.<br />

Transect 3 – 1.0 km long. In<strong>for</strong>mal walking track through proposed coupe 840-502-0015 from Legge Road to<br />

Brown Mountain Creek, then across creek <strong>and</strong> east to the dozer track along the western edge of proposed<br />

coupe 840-502-0019.<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong><br />

A survey using remote cameras was undertaken by Tony Mitchell (DSE Biodiversity<br />

Group, Orbost)<br />

Method<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s were surveyed by placing remote cameras at six sites<br />

spaced out across the survey area (see map). There were left in place <strong>for</strong> two<br />

sessions of 16 days <strong>and</strong> 11 days respectively. The cameras are tripped by a heat


sensor aimed at a bait station. The bait station is baited with a mix of peanut oil<br />

<strong>and</strong> pistachio essence on an absorbent strip of material.<br />

The cameras have been a successful method of detecting <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s in<br />

East Gippsl<strong>and</strong>, with a higher rate of detections than hair-tubing <strong>and</strong> trapping.<br />

8


Results<br />

The remote cameras were active <strong>for</strong> a total of 97 camera/nights. Five species<br />

were detected by the cameras (see table 3). No <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s were<br />

detected.<br />

Table 3 Species detected by remote survey cameras.<br />

Camera Coupe Location Dates Number<br />

of nights<br />

Camera 1 840-502-0019 18/02/09 – 6/03/09<br />

Camera 2 840-502-0015 18/02/09 – 6/03/09<br />

Camera 3 840-502-0015 18/02/09 – 6/03/09<br />

9<br />

16 Bushrat<br />

Species detected<br />

16 Mountain Brushtail Possum<br />

<strong>Long</strong>-nosed B<strong>and</strong>icoot<br />

16 Bushrat<br />

Camera 4 840-502-0019 18/02/09 – 6/03/09 16 Mountain Brushtail Possum<br />

Feral Cat<br />

Camera 2B 840-502-0015 6/03/09 – 17/03/09 11 Nil<br />

Camera 3 840-502-0015 6/03/09 – 17/03/09 11 Nil<br />

Camera 4B 840-502-0019 6/03/09 – 17/03/09 11 <strong>Long</strong>-nosed B<strong>and</strong>icoot<br />

Red Fox<br />

The non-detection of <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s must be interpreted with caution. The<br />

survey was implemented using st<strong>and</strong>ard methodology <strong>and</strong> level of ef<strong>for</strong>t <strong>and</strong> it had<br />

a high probability of detecting the species if it was present. However, the species<br />

can be very difficult to detect – often detections are not confirmed until a third or<br />

even fourth return visits to a site, despite the presence of diggings which are<br />

strongly suggestive of the species presence. Some diggings of this type were seen<br />

in the study area, <strong>and</strong> the <strong>for</strong>est type was assessed as good quality habitat <strong>for</strong><br />

<strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s. A confirmed <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong> site also occurs<br />

immediately to the west of the study area, on the other side of Legge Rd, <strong>and</strong> thus<br />

it is plausible that that the species may be present at the site.<br />

Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish<br />

Method<br />

A reconnaissance survey was undertaken by Andrew Murray (DSE Biodiversity<br />

Group, Orbost) on 27 March 2009. The survey used 10 baited box traps<br />

complimented by active h<strong>and</strong> searching along approximately 500m of Brown


Mountain Creek upstream <strong>and</strong> downstream of the point where the in<strong>for</strong>mal<br />

walking track meets the stream.<br />

The stream was found to be particularly shallow, <strong>and</strong> it was very difficult to locate<br />

pools deep enough (ie greater than 15cm) in order to place the box traps.<br />

Nonetheless, 10 traps were set <strong>and</strong> left in situ <strong>for</strong> approximately 3 hours.<br />

Results<br />

None of traps yielded any crayfish (neither Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish or Bidawal <strong>Spiny</strong><br />

Crayfish) or any species of fish. <strong>Surveys</strong> of this type also usually yield freshwater<br />

amphipods or shrimp, but neither of these were detected.<br />

Active h<strong>and</strong> searching also failed to detect any crayfish.<br />

Brown Mountain Creek is a first-order creek that lacks a great deal of complexity in<br />

terms of both instream structure <strong>and</strong> deep pools, both of which tend to be<br />

important to freshwater crayfish in the genus Euastacus. The habitat present was<br />

considered to be sub-optimal <strong>for</strong> Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish.<br />

No <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish were detected at the site <strong>and</strong> the habitat at the site was<br />

assessed as unlikely to provide the appropriate habitat. However, <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish<br />

can also be hard to find, especially as steam levels had dropped through the<br />

summer. Further survey work is recommended to clarify both the presence of<br />

freshwater crayfish in the catchment <strong>and</strong> the identity of species present.<br />

CONCLUSIONS<br />

The survey program produced the following key results:<br />

1. Sufficient Greater Gliders <strong>and</strong> Yellow-bellied Gliders were detected to achieve<br />

the thresholds <strong>for</strong> a high density population of these species as stipulated in<br />

the “Conservation Guideline – Arboreal Mammals” within the East Gippsl<strong>and</strong><br />

Forest Area Management Plan.<br />

2. No <strong>Long</strong>-footed <strong>Potoroo</strong>s were detected.<br />

3. No Orbost <strong>Spiny</strong> Crayfish were detected.<br />

Spotlight surveys were conservative estimates of the numbers of animals actually<br />

present. The consistent detection of high numbers of Greater Gliders <strong>and</strong> Yellowbellied<br />

Gliders confirms that the site supports a high density population.<br />

10


Given the relatively short amount of time available <strong>for</strong> the surveys of <strong>Long</strong>-footed<br />

<strong>Potoroo</strong> <strong>and</strong> the presence of nearby records <strong>and</strong> suitable habitat, it is possible that<br />

a more intensive <strong>and</strong> longer survey may record the species at the site.<br />

Further survey may also detect Orbost Spincy Crayfish, however, the habitat was<br />

considered to be sub-optimal <strong>for</strong> the species.<br />

11

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