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Fontainea oraria and Elaeocarpus williamsianus

These two rainforest species are part of a wider program of research, management and translocation of threatened rainforest species. Many of these are so restricted in numbers and so isolated, that they are low in diversity and risk inbreeding depression (the loss of reproductive capacity and fitness). Such species are at risk of extinction unless long-term management include genetic rescue.

Our research on the genetic diversity, ecology and dynamics of rare and threatened species enables us to develop management strategies and translocation plans that maximize diversity, re-establish fertility and increase overall viability.

Current research 

New populations have been re-established for both Fontainea oraria and Elaeocarpus williamsianus in selected locations in northern NSW. We used genetic information to develop a planting strategy that will maximize variation in translocated populations, and encourage the production of viable seed. This is very important, as populations remaining in the wild have such low diversity that, in the case of Elaeocarpus williamsianus, they can no longer produce viable seeds. Recent surveys of the translocated populations suggest that fertility has much increased and new genetic combination have been produced (for Fontainea oraria), raising hope for the long term survival of these species.

Some of our relevant publications:

  1. Vallee L, Hogbin T, Monks L, Makinson B, Matthes M, Rossetto M (2004) Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia. Second Edition (80 pages). Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Canberra.
  2. Rossetto M, Gross CL, Jones R, Hunter J (2004) The impact of clonality on an endangered tree (Elaeocarpus williamsianus) in a fragmented rainforest. Biological Conservation 117(1): 33-39.
  3. Rossetto M, McNally J, Henry RJ, Hunter J, Matthes M (2000) Conservation genetics of an endangered rainforest tree (Fontainea oraria - Euphorbiaceae) and implications for closely related species. Conservation Genetics 1 (3): 217-229.