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Distribution and Habitat

Population and Distribution
Spicospina flammocaerulea was discovered in 1994 (Roberts et al. 1997). When first described in 1997, the species was only known from three well separated peat swamps in the s.w. corner of WA (Roberts et al. 1997). However, survey work undertaken from 1997 to 2000 raised the number of known populations to 27, all occurring near the WA s. coast, e. and n.e. of Walpole (Roberts et al. 1999; Burbidge & Roberts 2001). This species has a limited area of occurrence (approximately 305 km2), small area of occupancy (135 ha) and fragmented range (Roberts et al. 1999; Burbidge & Roberts 2001). No reliable data on population size is available, however, counts of males have been recorded at several sites from 1994-1997 (Roberts et al. 1999). Surveys of calling males usually report less then ten individuals, however 150 males were estimated to be present at Trent Road (Bow R.) in 1997 (Roberts et al. 1997). An apparent decline in the number of calling males has been recorded at Mountain Road (n. and s.) where 120 males were observed calling in 1994 and three years later only 2 males were recorded (Roberts et al. 1999). The actual population size at sites with few or no calling males is unknown (D. Roberts pers. comm.). Two sites with a long history of visitation and no calling activity contained individuals in 2000 (D. Roberts pers. comm.).

Fourteen populations are on private property n., w. and e. of Bow Bridge, with the remainder in the Mt Franklin NP or on land designated to form part of the Mt Roe-Mt Lindesay NP but not yet declared (Roberts et al. 1999; D. Roberts pers. comm.).

Spicospina flammocaerulea is a habitat specialist. The region from which S. flammocaerulea has been recorded is thought to have undergone a change from a subtropical wet to a seasonally arid climate about 5 to 6 million years ago and the peat swamps where the species occurs are considered to be relicts of an earlier environment (Wardell-Johnson et al. 1996). The persistence of the species in well separated swamps is no doubt attributable to this change in environment (Wardell-Johnson et al. 1996). The species is found in isolated and permanently moist peat based swamps with organically-rich soils (Roberts et al. 1997), in a high rainfall area of moderate relief with granite outcrops and associated ranges of hills rising to 300-400m (Roberts et al. 1999). These sites have a high moisture content in the soil and are protected from climatic extremes, often by local seepages that maintain water availability uncharacteristically into spring and summer (Roberts et al. 1997).


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