Plant and animal species which are at risk of becoming extinct are known as threatened species. Threatened species can be identified by their conservation status which is specified under both Federal (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) and State (Nature Conservation Act 1992) legislation.
A range of factors is used to assess a species’ conservation status including:
- the number of individuals remaining
- the overall increase/decrease in the population over time
- breeding success rates
- known threats.
While the categories and specific definitions used differs between State and Federal legislation, in both cases the status indicates whether a species still exists and how likely it is to become extinct.
All native wildlife in Queensland is protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. This Act categorises threatened species according to how threatened they are, and what needs to be done in order to protect them. Species are classified into:
- extinct in the wild
- near threatened
- least concern.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 lists nationally threatened native species and ecological communities, native migratory species and marine species. View this list.
Local threatened species
More than 150 threatened species have been recorded on the Gold Coast.
More than 50 native animals that occur on the Gold Coast are considered to be threatened species including:
- terrestrial mammals - koala, southern greater glider, spotted tailed quoll, brush-tailed rock-wallaby, black-tailed antechinus, long-nosed potoroo, new holland mouse, hastings river mouse and water mouse
- bats – grey-headed flying-fox and large-eared pied bat
- marine mammals – humpback whale, Australian humpback dolphin and dugong
- terrestrial birds - glossy black-cockatoo, Albert's lyrebird, white-throated needletail, powerful owl, plumed frogmouth and black-breasted button-quail
- migratory shorebirds – red knot, curlew sandpiper, great knot, greater sand plover, lesser sand plover, bar-tailed godwit and eastern curlew
- resident shorebird - beach stone-curlew
- wetland birds – Australasian bittern and Australian painted snipe
- sea birds – albatross (antipodean, wandering, gibson's, buller's, indian yellow-nosed, shy, grey-headed, white-capped), southern and northern giant-petrels, herald petrel, retailed tropic bird and wedge-tailed shearwater
- terrestrial reptiles - Tryon's skink and death adder
- marine turtles - loggerhead turtle, green turtle, hawksbill turtle, and flatback turtle
- frogs - Fleay's barred-frog, giant barred-frog, tusked frog, wallum froglet, wallum rocketfrog, wallum sedgefrog and cascade treefrog
- butterflies and moths – Richmond birdwing, Illidge’s ant-blue, Australian fritillary and pink underwing moth
- a stingray - estuary stingray
- a crayfish - swamp crayfish.
There are more than 100 threatened plant species including Ormeau bottle tree, Springbrook leatherwood and tree waratah.
Download Threatened species of rainforest plants and City-wide significant plants species to learn more.
View the Queensland Government’s list of threatened animal species and threatened plant species which have been recorded within the Gold Coast local government area. These lists include links to further information about each species. It is noted that these lists may include species that:
- occurred in the past but no longer occur locally
- do not occur naturally within the Gold Coast but have been introduced
- have been observed on occasion but are not considered to be resident species or regular visitors.
Species are at risk of extinction for a number of reasons including:
Habitat loss is one of the top threatening processes for most species nationwide. Habitat loss occurs when native vegetation and natural areas are cleared or destroyed. Fragmentation is when habitats are broken into smaller areas which are separated from each other. Degradation is when the quality of the habitat is reduced.
On the Gold Coast, habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation is largely a result of:
- Urban development - land clearing for construction of urban infrastructure such as buildings, houses and roads.
- Clearing of trees and vegetation on private property - more than half of the native vegetation on the Gold Coast is on private property.
- Bushfire. Unplanned bushfire can decrease the amount and quality of habitat available. Additionally eucalypt forests and woodlands need fire for regeneration of shrub and groundcover. Therefore the long-term absence of fire can also reduce the quality of some habitats.
- Environmental weeds (introduced plants which invade natural areas) - the second biggest threat to our natural environment after land clearing. They degrade our natural environment by:
- out-competing native plant species for available nutrients and light
- taking over and changing native landscapes often leading to local plant or animal extinctions and loss of biodiversity
- reducing the availability of food and other resources for many native animals whilst sometimes benefiting pest animals
- increasing the risk of destructive wildfire.
- The grazing of domestic animals such as cattle, horses, goats and feral animals such as deer can cause trampling or loss of diversity of seedlings. It can also compact soil, preventing natural regeneration.
The death or loss of multiple individuals can significantly impact on the species as whole.
- Diseases kill both animals and plants and pose a significant threat to a number of species including frogs and koalas. Chlamydial disease has been the major cause of death for koalas on the Gold Coast for many years.
- Pests and feral animals can kill native animals in a number of ways – predation (feral cats, wild dogs, foxes), poisoning (cane toads) and by introducing diseases (feral pigs).
- Human infrastructure such as roads and barbed wire fences kill native animals.
- Unethical and illegal collection of plant and fauna specimens from the wild poses a serious threat to some species, particularly orchids, grass trees, and epiphytes.
- Bushfires kill a significant number of native plants and animals every year. The impacts of bushfires are compounded by the loss of habitat which reduces the available habitat where animals can flee to.
Changes in temperature and rainfall can have significant effects on our city’s biodiversity. For example, without consistent rainfall, areas become drier. This potentially results in higher fire frequency and/or intensity, which some species won’t be able to tolerate.
Plants and animals need available space to migrate as conditions change. High altitude species at the greatest risk as there is nowhere suitable for them to go.
Warmer conditions may also provide the right habitat for a greater variety of weeds which degrade habitat.
As sea levels rise, salt water moves further upstream and coastal habitats are inundated resulting in habitat loss.
What the City is doing
The City is taking action to reduce threats and protect species. Actions include:
What you can do
We all have a role in protecting our native species. The City provides a range of programs that enable everyone to take action.
More information about species is detailed in in the Flora and Fauna database.
Visit Gold Coast Flora and Fauna website and our guide to the site page.
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