Within the internationally recognised southwest WA biodiversity hotspot, Lake Clifton and surrounding areas supports several TECs in the one area, that need our protection.
Ecological communities are groups of different species within the same unique habitat or area. The number of different species within an ecosystem relates to biological diversity and the interactions that occur between species is complex, yet important to understand for their management and survival into the future. Once an ecological community has been significantly impacted/lost or at risk of extinction it is considered a threatened ecological community (TEC). Possible threatened ecological communities that are not yet adequately surveyed or defined are called priority ecological communities (PEC) and ranked in order of survey priority for evaluation of their conservation status.
The Lake Clifton area is unique in having thrombolites within the Lake and being surrounded by Tuart Woodlands and Banksia Woodlands, which are TECs and still in need of being adequately surveyed and mapped. We are still learning about the current extent of their geographical range and the thousands of species that rely on these Woodland for habitat (including invertebrates, non-flowering plants like fungi and micro-organisms). Tuart and Banksia Woodlands have become threatened due to similar processes; land clearing, weed invasion, grazing, disease, altered fire regimes and hydrological change. European rabbits are also a significant threat to the health of the woodlands.
The thrombolites that extend along 10 km of the eastern side of Lake Clifton are classified as Critically Endangered TEC. The thrombolite community depends on a continuous discharge of fresh groundwater that is low in salinity and nutrients. The major threats include declining water levels and elevated salinity (due to increased groundwater extraction and altered groundwater flows), increasing nutrient levels and other pollutants derived from adjacent agricultural and rural-residential properties, physical crushing, alteration to the vegetation buffer and introduced fauna (DBCA 2020). Maintaining the vegetation buffers, weed control and maintaining firebreaks on properties around the lake are important for their recovery. If you would like further information, get involved in the Land for Wildlife program, or a Lake Clifton/Herron resident and want to pre-register for the mid-year Lake Clifton seedling giveaway, please contact Corrine Duncan on 08 6369 8800.
Reference: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. (2020). Recovery plans and interim recovery plans. https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species-and-communities/wa-s-threatened-ecological-communities.
These projects are supported by PHCC through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, City of Mandurah and Shire of Waroona.