Reintroduction science and demographics

The Orchid Conservation Program aims to supplement existing populations and create new populations of currently endangered orchids in the wild, thereby helping prevent their extinction. We do this by reintroducing plants grown in captivity back into the bush.

In conjunction with project partners, the Orchid Conservation Program has undertaken over 50 orchid reintroductions across 18 species of endangered orchids in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

Reintroduction sites

Undertaking a successful reintroduction involves finding an appropriate site to plant the orchids. We need to ensure that existing threats to reintroduction sites are first mitigated including pressure by introduced animals and weeds. We secure reintroduction sites that match the habitat of the original wild population of the species and which is on secure land tenure (e.g. National Park or legally recognised covenanted private land). As most of the orchids that we work on have their own unique species of insect pollinator, we also need to confirm that the pollinator is present at our chosen site (see publications below).

Demographics

Understanding how our reintroductions are fairing against wild populations is critical to evaluating success. We therefore monitor both orchid reintroductions and wild populations of species we are studying to evaluate emergence, flowering and reproductive rates as well as dormancy periods. Understanding how our orchids respond to different climatic conditions will help long term conservation of these species.

Current projects are:

  • Caladenia colorata (Coloured Spider-orchid)
  • Caladenia fulva (Tawny Spider-orchid) 
  • Caladenia formosa (Elegant Spider-orchid) 
  • Caladenia hastata (Melblom’s Spider-Orchid)
  • Caladenia versicolor (Candy Spider-orchid) 
  • Caladenia xanthochila (Yellow-lip Spider-orchid)

Research team

  • Dr. Noushka Reiter (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)
  • Ms Gail Pollard (ANPC Field Officer)
  • Mr Andrew Bould
  • Prof. Raymond Tremblay (University of Puerto Rico)
  • Australasian Native Orchid Society (Victorian Group) Volunteers

Support

  • Alcoa/Portland Aluminium
  • Australian Network for Plant Conservation
  • Department of Environment, Land Water and Primary Industries
  • Parks Victoria
  • Trust for Nature
  • Wimmera Catchment Management Authority

Publications

Reiter, N., Whitfield, J., Pollard, G., Bedggood, W., Argall, M., Dixon, K., ... & Swarts, N. (2016). Orchid re-introductions: an evaluation of success and ecological considerations using key comparative studies from Australia. Plant Ecology, 1-15.

Reiter, N., Thomson, R., Bedggood, W., Jenek, C., Cross, R., Whitfield, J., Lawrie, A., Pollard, G., Argall, M., Johnson, G. and Lester, K. (2013). Victorian orchid conservation. Australian Plant Conservation 21(3), 12–14.