Plans are afoot to ensure the endangered flower known as the Arckaringa daisy keeps flourishing.
- An ecologist says there is an “ethical argument” to try and prevent the species from disappearing
- Cages will be put over the top of the flower to protect the species from livestock and other herbivores
- Lab-germinated flowers will also be placed into the area in a bid to boost numbers
Olearia arckaringensis only occurs in a very small area just north of Coober Pedy.
A survey conducted in 2017 found there were only about 2,000 left, but the South Australian Arid Lands Landscape Board said it would work with Antakarintja traditional owners and pastoralists to preserve it.
Wire mesh exclusion cages will be placed over 50 of the plants to protect the flowers from livestock and other herbivore threats.
SA Arid Lands Landscape Board senior community ecologist Kristian Bell said the measures would quantify how much damage the daisies were incurring from livestock.
“We know so little about the impact from livestock and large herbivores such as kangaroos, feral donkeys and horses,” he said.
“By caging plants, we will be able to gauge how healthy they are in a year’s time versus how healthy the plants are outside of the cage.
SA Arid Lands Landscape Board chair Ross Sawers said protecting the daisy was of the utmost importance.
“For a species known to exist in such a small area, it is important to do what we can to ensure the population is given every chance of long-term survival,” Mr Sawers said.
The project will also implement seed propagation to boost flower numbers and DNA samples will be taken to get a better idea of the flower’s composition.
Lab-germinated flowers will also be translocated into the area to see if they can survive the natural habitat.
The daisy was discovered by chance in 2000 by two scientists – Rob Brandle and Peter Lang – who found it in the gullies of the Breakaways in an isolated pocket of Arckaringa Station.
Two more variants of the Arckaringa daisy were found in 2011 along the same cliff line.
“It’s only known to occur on two stations,” Mr Bell said.
“Rob spotted this plant and immediately knew it was something a bit different and then Peter Lang went away and took samples and did all the taxonomies and described it as a new species.
“There’s a chance we might spot it in another place, but it’s probably unlikely we will find it on any additional stations.
“If we can prevent a species from disappearing through our actions then I think there is an ethical argument to say we should prevent it from disappearing.”