Creature Features

Creature Features are a popular section of our quarterly Xanthopus journal.

Here they are all in one spot for you to access. More creatures ariving soon!

Australian Sandalwood

Santalum spicatum in arid SA MCrawfordAustralian sandalwood Santalum spicatum is a woody perennial which is distributed across the arid and semi-arid regions of Western Australia and South Australia. Like all members of the genus S. spicatum is an obligate hemiparasite, meaning it requires a host tree to survive during its earlier years. This characteristic, combined with the species' slow growth, makes cultivation a difficult, long-term investment.
Many challenges face the species throughout its lengthy lifespan. Its large seeds are thought to be primarily dispersed by the critically endangered brushtailed bettong Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi, which have been all but wiped from mainland Australia. Furthermore, the high palatability of the plants results in vulnerability to grazing pressure. Such factors may have contributed to the 'endangered' conservation status of the species in South Australia.

Grassland or Chequered Copper Butterfly

Grassland  or  Chequered  Copper  ButterflyGrassland or Chequered Copper Butterfly Lucia limbaria is endemic to Australia and occurs in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. While widespread, it is nowhere common, and is rated Rare in South Australia. This is largely because in disturbed grassland / pasture the caterpillar hostplant Oxalis struggles to survive amongst aggressive introduced grass species.
Prior to 2011 this species was last recorded on the Adelaide Plains from a single specimen in the SA Museum, from Parkside in 1967. Prior to that it was collected at: Plympton, 1938; Parkside, 1942; Kensington, 1900.
In February 2011, this butterfly was found at the southern end of Victoria Park (in the Adelaide Park Lands) and its survival in this location is remarkable.

Flinders Ranges Purple-spotted Gudgeon

Flinders Ranges Purple-spotted GudgeonBiology:        Mogurnda clivicola populations in SA

M. clivicola are typically 5-8cm at maturity, but may grow up to 15cm. Sometimes confused with Spangled Perch Leiopotherapon unicolour, they are characterised by blue and rust-coloured bars along the sides of the body, with two separate dorsal fins and a rounded tail fin. Alternately, Spangled Perch have a more angular head, a single dorsal fin, forked tail fin and smaller uniform rust-coloured spotting over the entire body.

Spawning is prompted by water temperatures of at least 20°C , usually beginning in spring. They are repeat spawners, and females may continue to produce eggs as late as May or June if warm water temperature continues and food is available. Females lay between 200-800 eggs, which are guarded by males until hatching about 7 days later.

The Diamond Firetail

The Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttataThe Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata is a spectacular finch, popular amongst naturalists and the general community due to its brilliant plumage and social demeanour.
Characterised by its vivid red tail, the Diamond Firetail can be recognised by a flash of red from behind as a startled flock zips from open grassland into low bushes. Unique white spots against black flanks are its sparkling diamonds. Although it can boast being the largest of the Australian finches, the Diamond Firetail is small, weighing approximately 17 grams.