Executive Committee
Office Bearers
Chair Pip Tilbrook
Vice Chair John Blaney-Murphy
Secretary Wendy Coffey
Treasurer Graeme Heighton
Project Officer Craig Carter
General Members
Phillip Marshall
Des Wolfe
Keith Smith
Lex Langridge
Tania Scoles
Mandy Arnold
Torbay Catchment Group Inc.  P O Box 1900 Albany Western Australia 6331    chair@torbay.southcoastwa.org.au
The Torbay Catchment Group is a community-based volunteer organisation whose primary focus is protecting and restoring the health of the lands and waterways in the Torbay Catchment as well as supporting a prosperous and sustainable community within the catchment area.
Myrtle rust Threatens Native Flora

"Rusts" are diseases caused by a certain class of fungal pathogens. In this case the pathogen is Puccinia psidii. Myrtle Rust is one of a group of rusts known as the "Puccinia psidii complex", which only affect plants of the family Myrtaceae. It originates from South America and so far has found its way around the globe to the Caribbean (1900-30s), Florida -1977 (USA), Hawaii (2005), Japan (2007), Australia (2010), China (2011) and New Caledonia (2013).

This is the new scourge to hit Australia and damage our native flora and undo ecosystems. Thankfully at present it is not found in WA, but is causing problems in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. This is of great concern as myrtle rust is known to affect a multitude of Myrtaceous species, including species in the genus Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Callistemon, Beaufortia, Chamelaucium, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, Kunzea and Darwinia. Only two other native myrtaceous rusts have ever been recorded in Australia and so they are extremely rare.

The species within Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Corymbia play important roles in our ecosystems and myrtle rust could well be a devastating blow to iconic forests in our South West and plant communities already under threat from a multitude of invaders. Not all plant species or even cultivars are affected to the same extent. Some plants such as Melaleuca alternifolia (from which tea tree oil is made) have show little negative responses, others are not so lucky. The genus Rhodamnia (not found in WA), is so affected that one species has gone from common to potentially under serious threat. Damage is usually caused to young foliage and resprouting growth. This reduces the plant's ability to flower, set seed and recover from fire. Unfortunately it is also known to damage and kill new seedlings. In a field situation no chemical control is a real solution at this point.

Visible signs vary with the underside of the leaves first showing signs of yellow pustules, then complete yellow pustules on all surfaces of young growth although this can depend on the species. Spores can survive for various lengths of time, dependant on conditions. Optimum germination conditions observed mainly overseas, indicate temperatures of 13°C to 22°C, with high relative humidity at night, low light and at eight hours of darkness are preferred. Initial symptoms can appear within 5-7 days and in optimum conditions the full reproductive life cycle could be complete in 10-12 days in warmer months. At the point of yellow pustulation any control is too late as spores are highly mobile and so you should never take a suspect sample to be identified. Photograph the specimen and consider yourself as an infected vector as the spores are so mobile you are likely to spread the rust in your travels. If you suspect you have detected myrtle rust, contact Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and alert the biosecurity officers.

Given the fast movement of people and common use of air travel in these days, it would be very easy for this disease to be introduced unwittingly into this state. You should be very cautious on return from travel in respect to infected clothing, particularly if you have been hiking and in field situations.

Department of Agriculture and Food WA Garden Note at the following link
    http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/
content/pw/ph/dis/gn_myrtle_rust.pdf

Department of Agriculture and Food, Pest and Disease Information Service
3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151
Freecall: 1800 084 881    Email: info@agric.wa.gov.au

DEC Myrtle Rust Information Page
    http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/management-and-
protection/plants/invasive-plants/myrtle-rust.html

Flustered Foxes

Over the past 18 months a small team of local shooters have carefully removed a large number of foxes from properties within the Torbay Catchment. Detailed records of sightings and confirmed deaths since mid-October 2012 (seven months) show that 71 foxes and one cat no longer roam the catchment.

Averaging around ten foxes per month over the period, the guys have now noticed positive results from the continued pressure on the fox population. In the last six months sightings of both ringtail and brush tail possums have been steady and during one night over six possums of both species were stumbled upon during a routine shoot. Other landholders have noticed a significant increase in bandicoot numbers.

It appears a vacuum effect occurs at particular times of the year with foxes streaming back into regularly shot properties. However, overall fox numbers within the catchment would be taking a sustained hit thereby reducing their numbers. Interestingly it appears 60% of foxes taken are male; maybe the boys are not so cunning!

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