Southern macadamia species recovery plan

By Frank Daniels,2014-05-20 09:37
13 views 0
Southern macadamia species recovery plan

Southern Macadamia Species

    Recovery Plan

    Macadamia integrifolia Macadamia tetraphylla

    Macadamia ternifolia Macadamia jansenii


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan


    Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

Prepared by:

    Glenn Costello, Michael Gregory and Paul Donatiu

    For Horticulture Australia Limited and the Australian Macadamia Society


    Glenn Costello

    Paul Donatiu

    Ian McConachie

Horticulture Australia Limited and the Australian Macadamia Society

    Copyright rests with Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL). Except for purposes permitted by the Copyright Act, reproduction by whatever means is prohibited without the prior written knowledge of HAL. Inquiries should be addressed to HAL, Level 1, 50 Carrington Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

Copies may be obtained from:

    Horticulture Australia Limited

    Level 1, 50 Carrington Street

    SYDNEY NSW 2000

    Tel: (02) 8295-2300

    Fax: (02) 8295-2399


    The Australian Government, in partnership with the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, facilitates the publication of recovery plans to detail the actions needed for the conservation of threatened native wildlife. The attainment of objectives and the provision of funds may be subject to budgetary and other constraints affecting the parties involved, and may also be constrained by the need to address other conservation priorities. Approved recovery plans may be subject to modification due to changes in knowledge and changes in conservation status.

Publication reference:

    Costello, G., Gregory, M. and Donatiu, P. 2009. Southern Macadamia Species Recovery

    Plan. Report to Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra by Horticulture Australia Limited, Sydney.


    Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan


    Page Number

    Executive Summary 4 1. General information

     Conservation Status 5

     International Obligations 5

     Affected Interests 5

     Consultation with Indigenous People 6

     Benefits to other Species or Communities 6

     Social and Economic Impacts 6 2. Biological information

     Introduction 7

     Important Populations 7

     Habitat Critical to Survival 8

     Macadamia integrifolia 10

     Macadamia jansenii 13

     Macadamia ternifolia 14

     Macadamia tetraphylla 16 3. Threats

     Biology and Ecology relevant to Threats 19

     Identification of Threats 21

     Threats Summary 23 4. Recovery Objectives, Performance Criteria and Actions

     Overall Objectives 24

     Performance Criteria 24

     Specific Objectives and Actions 24

     Summary Table 28 5. Cost of Recovery 31 6. Management Practices 33 7. Evaluation of Recovery Plan 33 Acknowledgements 34 Acronyms 34 References 35 Appendix 1 Recovery Team Membership 36


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

Executive Summary

Species Description and Taxonomy

    Of the nine macadamia species, seven are found in Australia in two distinct clades (Johnson and Briggs 1975). The southern clade consists of four subtropical rainforest and wet sclerophyll mid stratum trees, all of which have simple leaves arranged in whorls of three or four or opposite, axillary flowers in brush-like hanging racemes, and rounded fruits with a hard brown inner shell protecting the edible nut.

Current Species Status

    With the exception of Macadamia jansenii, which is listed as ‘Endangered’ under the

    Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)

    and the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act), all three other species are

    listed as ’Vulnerable’, including Macadamia tetraphylla in New South Wales where it is listed

    under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act). In addition, all four species

    are listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List for Threatened Plants (IUCN 1997).

Habitat and Distribution Summary

    All four species are endemic to rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest communities found within the northeast New South Wales-southeast Queensland coastal region. They are genetically closely related, and except for M. jansenii which is known from a single location 150km north

    of the closest macadamia population, have overlapping ranges.

Threats Summary

    Clearing for human population growth and development, fragmentation, altered fire regimes, small population size and weed species are the major processes affecting southern macadamia species. Climate change in the form of variable rainfall and higher temperatures, the potential for genetic pollution from commercial plantations, and a lack of public awareness of wild macadamias are also considered significant threats.

Recovery Objective

    The overall objective of this plan is to protect wild populations of the four nominated species from decline, ensure their long-term viability, and raise awareness of flora conservation issues within the community.

Summary of Actions

    Key actions required for the recovery of southern macadamias include surveying known macadamia populations, negotiating appropriate agreements with landholders to establish greater long-term security for priority areas on private property, providing land managers with the resources to develop and implement management plans for macadamia conservation, establishing an ex-situ conservation program for Macadamia jansenii, identifying gaps in the

    current understanding of southern macadamia species ecology and commensurate research priorities for conservation, and liaising with State Agencies, Local Authorities and Regional Bodies in order to incorporate macadamia conservation into their biodiversity conservation and natural resource management strategies. The total estimated cost of implementing recovery actions is $1,091,500.


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

1. General Information

Conservation Status

    Macadamia belong to the Proteaceae, an ancient angiosperm family whose initial differentiation from ancestral forms occurred in the southeast of Australia 90-100 million years ago. Proteaceae appear to have been a major component of the early angiosperm dominated rainforests that once covered most of Australia. This Plan focuses on the four southern species of macadamia, all of which are subtropical rainforest mid stratum trees endemic to the northeast NSW-southeast Queensland coastal region. All are genetically closely related and, with the exception of M. jansenii, have overlapping ranges.

    Table 1. Plant species included in the Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan. Scientific Name Conservation Status

     NCA 1992 TSC Act EPBC Act

    1995 1999

    Macadamia integrifolia Maiden & Betche V N/A V

    Macadamia jansenii C.L.Gross & E N/A E


    Macadamia ternifolia F.Muell. V N/A V

    Macadamia tetraphylla L.A.S.Johnson V V V

International Obligations

    Macadamia species are currently not listed on any international agreements. This recovery plan is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

Affected Interests

    This recovery plan has been initiated by and written for Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) in conjunction with the Macadamia Conservation Committee (MCC). The MCC and other select individuals collectively constitute the Recovery Team for this plan (see Appendix 1), and is chaired by Ian McConachie.

Other affected interests may include:

    ; Australian Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA)

    ; Australian Macadamia Society

    ; Brisbane Rainforest Action and Information Network

    ; Burnett-Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management

    ; CSIRO

    ; Fitzroy Basin Association

    ; Landholders

    ; Land for Wildlife participants

    ; Local Authorities

    ; Local indigenous groups

    ; Macadamia Conservation Research Network

    ; New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW DECC)

    ; Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority

    ; Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (including the

    Queensland Herbarium) (QDERM)

    ; Queensland Fire and Rescue Service


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

    ; SEQ Catchments

    ; Southeast Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium

    ; University of the Sunshine Coast

Consultation with Indigenous People

    During the development of the plan, several Indigenous groups with connection to country providing macadamia habitat were contacted. These included the Kabi Kabi and Yuggera groups (SE Queensland), and the Southeast Queensland Traditional Owner Land and Sea Management Alliance (SEQTOLSMA). Macadamia nuts have been recorded as a valuable food, trading and cultural resource to Aboriginal people (SEQTOLSMA members pers. comm.). All these groups reiterated the importance of conserving threatened macadamia species. Indigenous people will be encouraged to be involved in the recovery process through the implementation of recovery actions.

Benefits to other Species or Communities

    Specific localities for some macadamia populations recorded in this Plan provide valuable habitat for other State and Commonwealth listed threatened species and ecological communities. The protection of these sites will provide benefits to non-target taxa, and assist in the prioritisation of management actions. Some populations are also found in ‘Endangered’ and ‘Of concern’ regional ecosystems (see Tables 2-5). The protection of

    these vegetation communities provides an additional layer of protection to these populations.

Social and Economic Impacts

    Populations of threatened species found on private lands are generally located in areas where in situ protection for example, through fencing off and weed control will have little

    or no negative economic impact on the viability of farm enterprises on these lands. Lack of protection of wild macadamia populations may have significant economic impacts on the macadamia industry.


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

2. Biological Information


    Macadamia belong to the Proteaceae, an ancient angiosperm family whose initial differentiation from ancestral forms occurred in the south-east of Australia 90-100 million years ago. The family is well known for other genera such as Banksia, Grevillea, and Hakea.

    Proteaceae appear to have been a major component of the early angiosperm dominated rainforests which once covered most of Australia. Macadamia were probably widely distributed within these early forests as evidenced by macadamia type fossil pollen recorded in sediments in south-east Australia, central coastal Queensland and New Zealand.

    The commencement of significant and permanent change in climate beginning about 40 million years ago resulted in the contraction of rainforest towards coastal areas, a process which accelerated through the Quaternary period. This process contributed to adaptation to drier fire prone habitats by much of the Proteaceae family, with a relict rainforest component including macadamia, becoming progressively more restricted and disjunct in distribution over time and space.

    There are nine species of macadamia, seven of which are found in Australia in two distinct clades (Johnson and Briggs 1975). The southern clade (the subject of this plan) consists of four subtropical rainforest and wet sclerophyll mid stratum trees endemic to the northeast NSW southeast Queensland coastal region. They are genetically closely related, and except for M. jansenii which is known from a single location 150 km north of the closest macadamia population, have overlapping ranges (see Figure 1). In fact, the wild distributions of M. integrifolia, M. ternifolia and M. tetraphylla are predominantly restricted to a narrow east-

    west zone broadly defined as the first line of significant hills west of the Pacific Ocean. Trees that display morphological characteristics of both M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla are found

    in a hybrid zone up to 20 km wide (Peace 2005). While similar observations have not been reported for M. integrifolia and M. ternifolia, DNA marker studies have confirmed hybrid

    genotypes (Peace 2005). Hybridisation may be an important survival mechanism, providing a means of adaptation to changed environmental conditions, and evidence of the evolutionary retention of genes better adapted to the same. Hybrid populations offer important foci for ecological research, potentially improving long-term species viability where overlap occurs, and therefore may be important conservation priorities.

Macadamias have had a long association with humans nut shells have been found in

    aboriginal middens near Brisbane and the first specimens were collected by the explorer Leichardt in 1843 about 60 km north of Brisbane. From 1860, settlers discovered the fine eating qualities of both M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla, which were widely planted in farm

    yards and backyards as single trees grown from seeds of local wild stock.

    The macadamia nut industry was founded around 1880 at Rous Hill near Lismore using seed from local wild stock, with similar plantings recorded near Maleny southeast Queensland in ththe early 20 century. Importantly, the long history of planting and transport of nuts by early settlers makes it difficult to distinguish planted trees from wild stock, especially in areas where agricultural activities have been abandoned and regrowth has occurred. This situation can confound identification of macadamia distribution and natural habitat, and has implications for distribution of genetic resources.

Important Populations

    Given the fragmented and small nature of all populations of each species, all populations are considered important for the survival of each species.


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

On the basis of currently available information, it is not possible to prioritise individual

    macadamia populations. The Plan includes prioritised (high or medium) population clusters

    for each species on the basis of:

    1. Extent of geographical range (particularly whether a cluster is found at the northern or

    southern limit of a species range).

    2. High density areas (multiple populations of multiple individuals).

    3. Areas of hybridisation (critical for the future evolution of macadamia species,

    particularly in light of climate change impacts).

    4. Degree of genetic isolation and genetic differentiation.

    5. Extent and pattern of available remnant habitat.

    The site identifier (MGA northing), location, tenure, regional ecosystem (remnant; bold indicates that the biodiversity status of the RE is endangered, italics of concern, clear indicates no surrounding native vegetation), population size, and the priority (high, medium or low) of known population clusters for each species throughout its distribution are summarised in Tables 2-5.

Habitat Critical to Survival

    Detailed habitat information, in terms of soil, topographic position, climate, and regional ecosystems, is provided for each species.

    Habitat critical to the survival of southern macadamia species includes:

    ; All areas currently occupied by each species.

    ; All areas currently occupied by M. integrifolia/ternifolia and M. integrifolia/tetraphylla


    ; Areas of native vegetation which provide linkages between southern macadamia

    species’ populations.

    Areas of occupancy for all populations and the location of vegetation providing linkages between populations will be determined during the implementation of recovery actions.


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

    1Figure 1. Indicative distribution of the four southern species of macadamia in Australia (Hardner et al. 2008; note that Macadamia sightings are unspecified).

     1 This map provides an overview of known southern macadamia species locations, and does not represent every known site.


Southern Macadamia Species Recovery Plan

Macadamia integrifolia (Queensland nut tree)


    Macadamia integrifolia (Queensland nut or Macadamia nut) is a long-lived perennial mid-

    storey evergreen subtropical rainforest tree to 20m tall, with greyish branchlets dotted with raised lenticels (Hauser and Blok 1992). Individuals are often multi stemmed with small crowns. The simple obovate to narrowly oblong leaves are arranged in whorls of three or opposite, and 5.5cm to 14cm long by 2.5cm to 6cm wide (Stanley and Ross 2002). Blade tips are rounded and finish in a short sharp point; the base tapers to petioles 5 to 10mm long. Axillary creamy-white flowers are arranged in brush-like hanging racemes 10 to 30cm long. Rounded fruits are green, 2.5 to 3.5cm wide with a hard brown inner shell protecting the edible nut. Flowering period is August to October with kernel maturation from December to March, with mature nuts falling to the ground thereafter.

Life history and ecology

    Both introduced European honey (Apis mellifera) and native bees Trigona spp. appear to be

    the main pollinators, with native bees being superior pollinators. Seed dispersal is by small rodents and gravity fall, probably with some assistance from local stream flooding, although viable nuts tend not to float. There is evidence that the species prefers rainforest eco-tones where light levels are higher, however these areas are also relatively more fire prone. Hybridization has been documented between M. integrifolia and M. ternifolia, and between M.

    integrifolia and M. tetraphylla in areas where their range overlap. Natural inter-specific

    hybridization has been observed to occur in areas of range overlap between M. integrifolia

    and M. tetraphylla, and between M. integrifolia and M. ternifolia particularly where both

    species co-occur within a rainforest patch.

Genetic studies have been carried out on wild M. integrifolia DNA using RAFs (Radioactive

    Amplified DNA Fingerprinting) microsatellites and isozymes techniques (Neal 2007, Peace 2005). Both molecular marker evidence and evidence from variation for horticultural traits indicates there is moderate to high genetic diversity within the species and within populations (Neal 2007, Hardner et al. 2008). Results indicate some differentiation between populations in northern and southern regions however overall genetic differentiation between populations is moderate to low and increase with increasing distance between populations ( > 50 km) indicating considerable past gene flow between populations. Evidence from paternity studies indicates considerable current gene flow by pollen occurs between populations even in a highly fragmented landscape (Neal 2007). These data indicate that the species may survive small population size if there is a network of small populations within a region (meta-population) that enable the maintenance of genetic diversity. M. integrifolia can hybridize

    with M. tetraphylla and M. ternifolia. Dispersal of pollen by flying insects and perhaps other flying organisms has ensured potential for gene flow even in modified landscapes (Neal 2007). However, little is known of fruit dispersal, except rodents that have been observed to move seeds from orchards into surrounding native bush habitat.

    While small populations may be able to maintain themselves in a fragmented landscape where distances between patches are small, larger distances are not conducive to gene flow by pollen sufficient to maintain the genetic integrity of populations. The contrasting habitat matrix between populations may prevent dispersal of seed between these populations, except down creek lines. Therefore, if chance events lead to local population extinction, populations are not likely to be able to be replenished from neighbouring populations.


    Macadamia integrifolia is distributed along the foothills and coastal ranges of southeast Queensland from the NSW border to Mt Bauple near Maryborough, a distance of approximately 300 km. It is a scattered rare to occasional tree that is more common in the northern half of its range.


Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email