Dr Stephen Bell

Dr Stephen Bell

Conjoint Fellow

School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Career Summary

Biography

I work as a vegetation ecologist and consultant botanist, and have been involved in native vegetation survey, classification and mapping in the Greater Sydney and Hunter Regions of New South Wales since 1990. Under contract to State government, I have undertaken comprehensive plant surveys for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in over 30 conservation reserves, and have been Lead Botanist for several large scale regional projects within the Sydney Basin bioregion. On behalf of Local government, I have co-ordinated and completed LGA-wide vegetation classification and mapping projects across a number of local Council areas, and have examined the distribution and ecology of several legally protected Threatened Ecological Communities and numerous threatened plant species. Also dabbling in the plant taxonomy field, I have discovered and co-described a small number of new plant species from the Hunter Valley, with ongoing studies continuing into other regional novelties.

In October 1996, I established a specialist botanical consultancy providing high quality services to government and the private sector, a business which remains my principle employer. After 25 years in the consulting field, I have developed a wide network of contacts both in government and industry, which I use to facilitate my research interests. Following 15 years of data collection in the private consulting field, I began my PhD studies in 2004 to tackle strategic planning issues that became evident from many years attempting to ‘pigeon-hole’ the vegetated environment. In particular, I found the lack of recognition of geographically restricted and rare plant communities in regional strategic planning initiatives frustrating, and an improvement in methods of classification and mapping was seen as paramount. During this process, a number of restricted plant communities have been defined and delineated, some of which (eg: Kincumber Scribbly Gum Forest, Quorrobolong Scribbly Gum Forest) are now legally protected through threatened species legislation. Revisions to other legally-defined communities are ongoing.

Linking back with the School of Environmental and Life Sciences in 2014, I now hope to use my skills, experience and contacts to further research into the ecology of plant species and vegetation communities of the Hunter and Greater Sydney Regions.

Research Expertise
My research priorities sway between two related streams of investigation. First and foremost, all of my research involves native plant species, the communities in which they occur, and how the activities of Man impact upon them. In this regard I strive to apply the same principles behind individual plant species recognition and conservation to the habitats (plant communities) in which they live. I am particularly interested in the detection, recognition and mapping of rare plant communities, as it is these that are most often overlooked in strategic planning instruments. I do this by investigating how such communities can be best sampled, analysed and depicted in vegetation maps, so that land-use planners and practitioners can manage landscapes accordingly. Legally protected plant communities (such as can be listed on the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 or the Commonwealth Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) are a specific avenue of research, as in many cases these threatened communities are also geographically restricted. Other fields of interest include:
• Vegetation classification of the Sydney Basin bioregion – in collaboration with other researchers from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, I have been classifying and mapping the native vegetation of the Sydney Basin since the early 1990’s. Continuing data collection and analysis furthers our understanding of how different plant communities are related to one another, and also opens up a number of new research opportunities.
• Threatened and significant plant taxa - the ecology and distribution of individual plant taxa is also of research interest, particularly threatened plant species and those that are endemic to the Hunter region. Many of the Hunter’s endemic species (of which there are >100 taxa) are legally protected; however the vast majority is not. It is these unprotected endemic taxa that require further research, as some of these may become threatened in coming years.
• Restoration of disturbed landscapes - being based in the Hunter Valley of NSW, home to the largest coal export port in the World, I am also interested in the return of native vegetation following coal mining and associated ground disturbances, and in the management of former grazing lands that have been purchased for conservation offsets. As much of the Hunter Valley floor supports threatened ecological communities, it is particularly important that the regeneration of former grazing lands adds to the conservation of these communities.
• Historical botany - in recent years, I have begun to appreciate the value of the writings and journals of early Australian botanical explorers as they moved through the Hunter region and other parts of New South Wales. The observations made by some of these are truly astounding, and provide important commentary on what the originally vegetation must have been like. Part of my research on plant species and communities incorporates investigation into these historical writings, to aid current-day understanding of the vegetation we see today.

Collaborations
With support from the University of Newcastle Foundation, I am collaborating with Chris Rockley and past and present students from the University’s Bachelor of Natural History Illustration course to prepare a monograph highlighting the endemic plant species of the Hunter and Central Coast region. Several Hunter endemic species are new to science and remain scientifically undescribed, and many others have never been illustrated in detail before. Over 100 plant species are endemic to our region, and it is hoped that the monograph will highlight both their plight and the incredible artistic talents of the University's natural history illustrators. See http://engage.newcastle.edu.au/capturing-the-rare-beauty-of-hunter-flora/ for more information.

 

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • endemic plants
  • historical botany
  • native vegetation
  • strategic planning
  • threatened & rare plants
  • threatened communities
  • vegetation classification & mapping
  • vegetation communities
  • vegetation restoration

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
060202 Community Ecology (excl. Invasive Species Ecology) 50
060799 Plant Biology not elsewhere classified 25
120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning 25

Professional Experience

Membership

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/11/2015 - 31/12/2016 Vegetation Classification Working Group

The IAVS Vegetation Classification Working Group is an international network dealing with all aspects of vegetation classification at all spatial and organisational scales.

International Association for Vegetation Science
Czech Republic
1/01/2015 -  Membership - Australasian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS) Australasian Systematic Botany Society (ASBS)
Australia
1/01/2014 - 31/12/2014 Membership - Biodiversity Modelling & Prioritisation: Hunter, Central & Lower North Coast Region Technical Workshop Biodiversity Modelling & Prioritisation: Hunter, Central & Lower North Coast Region Technical Workshop
Australia
1/01/2014 - 31/12/2014 Membership - Hunter Valley Woodlands Expert Technical Workshop Hunter Valley Woodlands Expert Technical Workshop
Australia
1/01/2013 - 31/12/2013 Membership - Grevillea parviflora Expert Panel & Workshop Lake Macquarie City Council Grevillea parviflora Expert Panel & Workshop Lake Macquarie City Council
Australia
1/01/2013 - 31/12/2013 Membership - Hunter Valley Grasslands Expert Panel & Workshop Hunter Valley Grasslands Expert Panel & Workshop
Australia
1/01/2012 - 31/12/2012 Membership - Priority Action Statements for Threatened Species Expert Panel Priority Action Statements for Threatened Species Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2012 - 31/12/2012 Membership - Review of Benchmarks for Greater Hunter Vegetation Classification Expert Panel Review of Benchmarks for Greater Hunter Vegetation Classification Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2011 -  Membership - International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS)
Australia
1/01/2009 - 31/12/2009 Membership - Hunter Vegetation and the NSWVCA Expert Panel Hunter Vegetation and the NSWVCA Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2009 - 31/12/2009 Membership - Tetratheca juncea Expert Panel & Workshop Lake Macquarie City Council Tetratheca juncea Expert Panel & Workshop Lake Macquarie City Council
Australia
1/01/2008 - 31/12/2008 Membership - Climate Change & Biodiversity Impacts Expert Panel Climate Change & Biodiversity Impacts Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2008 - 31/12/2008 Membership - Vegetation Classification Expert Panel Vegetation Classification Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2006 - 31/12/2007 Membership - Hunter Valley Threatened Flora Recovery Team Hunter Valley Threatened Flora Recovery Team
Australia
1/01/2005 - 31/12/2005 Membership - Kurri Sands Swamp Woodland EEC Recovery Team Kurri Sands Swamp Woodland EEC Recovery Team
Australia
1/01/2005 - 31/12/2005 Membership - Regionally Significant Vegetation Expert Panel Regionally Significant Vegetation Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2003 - 31/12/2003 Membership - Hunter Valley High Conservation Value Vegetation Expert Panel Hunter Valley High Conservation Value Vegetation Expert Panel
Australia
1/01/2000 -  Membership - Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) Ecological Society of Australia (ESA)
Australia
1/01/1996 -  Membership - Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS) Australasian Native Orchid Society (ANOS)
Australia
1/01/1995 -  Membership - Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC) Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC)
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/07/2017 - 30/06/2019 Committee Member (Ministerial Appointment) NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee
Australia
1/07/2014 - 30/06/2018 Membership - OEH Species Technical Group

Provide peer review for major changes to Saving our Species (SoS) conservation projects proposed by Species Project Coordinators, or for allocation of newly listed species, ecological communities or populations to an SoS management stream.

NSW Species Technical Group: Flora (SoS Program)
Australia
1/01/2001 - 1/12/2003 Committee Member (Ministerial Appointment) Hunter Regional Vegetation Committee
Australia
1/01/1998 - 31/12/1998 Membership - Expert Panel for the Lower North-east CRA division Expert Panel for the Lower North-east CRA division
Australia
1/10/1996 -  Principal Consultant Botanist Eastcoast Flora Survey
Australia

Awards

Recognition

Year Award
2003 Stephen Bell
Unknown
2003 Stephen Bell
Eastcoast Flora Survey

Invitations

Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2015 Developing and monitoring ‘SMART’ rehabilitation completion criteria for the establishment of native vegetation communities on mine rehabilitation.
Organisation: Hunter Coal Environment Group
2014 Effective Biodiversity Offsets: Improving planning, valuation and monitoring practice (with Martin Fallding).
Organisation: The Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment Description: Mine Rehab Conference 2014: Best Practice Ecological Rehabilitation, 25 September 2014, Singleton.
2014 Introduction to the flora of the Hunter Valley - history, diversity and ecology
Organisation: Australian Network for Plant Conservation Description: Plant Identification for Flora of the Hunter Valley, 7th - 8th April 2014, Kurri Kurri, Australian Network for Plant Conservation
2011 Vegetation of the Worimi Conservation Lands, Lower North Coast, New South Wales
Organisation: Nature Conservation Council Description: HOTSPOTS Fire Project: Awabakal and Worimi Fire Forum, 27th July 2011, Williamtown, Never Never Resources
2010 Vegetation of Wanaruah Lands, Sandy Hollow, Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Organisation: Nature Conservation Council Description: HOTSPOTS Fire Project: Wanaruah Fire Forum, 17th – 19th August 2010, Sandy Hollow, Upper Hunter Valley, Nature Conservation Council
2009 Surveying, classifying and mapping vegetation on the Tomago Sandbeds, Lower North Coast, New South Wales
Organisation: Geoscience Australia Description: Coastal Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Workshop, 3rd – 4th September 2009, South West Rocks, NSW (Geoscience Australia)
2000 An evaluation of vegetation survey and threatened plant species listings in the Hunter Region
Organisation: Hunter Environment Lobby Inc. Description: Vegetation Management & Biodiversity Conservation - Hunter Region. Proceedings of a Workshop held in May 2000, organised by the Hunter Environment Lobby Inc.
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Book (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2008 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, Vegetation of the Cessnock-Kurri Region: Survey, Classification & Mapping, Cessnock LGA, New South Wales, Department of Environment & Climate Change, Sydney South, 271 (2008)
1998 Bell C, Bell S, Helman S, Cannon G, Key Guide to Eucalypt & Related Species, Singleton Shire. A Pocket Guide for Identification of Eucalypts in the Field, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Muswellbrook, New South Wales, 102 (1998)

Journal article (24 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Acacia wollarensis (Fabaceae, Mimosoideae sect. Botrycephalae), a distinctive new species endemic to the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia', Telopea, 20 125-136 (2017) [C1]
DOI 10.7751/telopea11502
2016 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Hunter Valley Weeping Myall Woodland ¿ is it really definable and defendable with and without Weeping Myall (Acacia pendula)?', Cunninghamia, 16 15-30 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.7751/cunninghamia.2016.16.003
2015 Bell S, Walsh NG, 'Leionema lamprophyllum subsp. fractum (Rutaceae); a new and highly restricted taxon from the Hunter Valley of New South Wales', Telopea, 18 505-512 (2015) [C1]
DOI 10.7751/telopea9226
2015 Bell S, Holzinger B, 'Wildfire reveals new populations of the endangered 'Commersonia rosea' and 'Monotaxis macrophylla' in northern Wollemi National Park, NSW', Australasian Plant Conservation, 23 2-4 (2015) [C2]
2014 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Acacia pendula (Weeping Myall) in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales: early explorers¿ journals, database records and habitat assessments raise doubts over naturally occurring populations', Cunninghamia, 14 179-200 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.7751/cunninghamia.2014.14.009
2013 de Lacey C, Bell S, Chamberlain S, Bossard K, 'Finding the leafless tongue orchid 'Cryptostylis hunteriana' Nicholls', Nature New South Wales, 57 24-25 (2013)
2013 Bell SAJ, Elliott M, 'Preliminary results suggest fire is required to maintain Acacia dangarensis, a threatened single-population endemic from the Hunter Valley of NSW', Australasian Plant Conservation, 22 9-10 (2013)
2012 de Lacey C, Bell S, Chamberlain S, Bossard K, 'Habitat of the Leafless Tongue Orchid Cryptostylis hunteriana Nicholls throughout its known Australian distribution', Australasian Plant Conservation, 20 23-25 (2012)
2012 de Lacey C, Bell S, Chamberlain S, Bossard K, 'Habitat of the Leafless Tongue Orchid Cryptostylis hunteriana Nicholls throughout its known Australian distribution', The Orchadian, 17 162-174 (2012)
2012 Bell SAJ, Nicolle D, 'Eucalyptus expressa (Myrtaceae): a new and distinctive species from the sandstone ranges north-west of Sydney, New South Wales', Telopea, 14 69-76 (2012)
DOI 10.7751/telopea2012012
2012 Bell SAJ, Stables M, 'Floristic variability, distribution and an extension of range for the endangered Pittwater Spotted Gum Forest, Central Coast, New South Wales', Cunninghamia, 12 143-152 (2012)
2010 Bell SAJ, 'Defining and mapping an endangered ecological community within Lake Macquarie Local Government Area, New South Wales.', Australasian Plant Conservation, 18 18-19 (2010)
2009 Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation and floristics of Columbey National Park, lower Hunter Valley, New South Wales.', Cunninghamia, 11 241-275 (2009)
2008 Bell SAJ, 'Rare or threatened vascular plant species of Wollemi National Park, central eastern New South Wales.', Cunninghamia, 10 331-371 (2008)
2007 Bell SAJ, Peake T, Driscoll C, 'Dealing with taxonomic uncertainty in Weeping Myall Acacia pendula from the Hunter catchment, New South Wales.', Australasian Plant Conservation, 16 14-15 (2007)
2005 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, 'New records of the endangered Hibbertia procumbens from the Central Coast of NSW.', Australasian Plant Conservation, 13 24-25 (2005)
2005 Bell SAJ, Parsons J, Meldrum R, 'Towards the protection and management of hanging swamps on the Somersby Plateau, Central Coast, New South Wales.', Australasian Plant Conservation, 13 10-11 (2005)
2005 Bell SAJ, Branwhite B, Driscoll C, 'Thelymitra ¿adorata¿ (Orchidaceae): population size and habitat of a highly restricted terrestrial orchid from the Central Coast of New South Wales.', The Orchadian, 15 6-10 (2005)
2004 Bell SAJ, Copeland LM, 'Commersonia rosea (Malvaceae s.l.: Lasiopetaleae): a new, rare fire-ephemeral species from the upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales.', Telopea, 10 581-587 (2004)
2004 Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation of Werakata National Park, Hunter Valley, New South Wales.', Cunninghamia, 8 331-347 (2004)
2004 Bell SAJ, 'Distribution and habitat of the vulnerable tree species, Angophora inopina (Myrtaceae), on the Central Coast of New South Wales.', Cunninghamia, 8 477-484 (2004)
2002 Bell SAJ, 'Habitat of the endangered Hibbertia procumbens (Labill.) DC (Dilleniaceae) from the Central Coast of New South Wales', The Victorian Naturalist, 119 69-74 (2002)
2001 Bell SAJ, 'Notes on population size and habitat of the vulnerable Cryptostylis hunteriana Nicholls (Orchidaceae) from the Central Coast of New South Wales', Cunninghamia, 7 195-204 (2001)
2001 Bell SAJ, 'Notes on the distribution and conservation status of some restricted plant species from sandstone environments of the upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales', Cunninghamia, 7 77-88 (2001)
Show 21 more journal articles

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2000 Bell S, 'An evaluation of vegetation survey and threatened plant species listings in the Hunter Region', Proceedings of Vegetation Management and Biodiversity Conservation in the Hunter Region - Where to from here? (2000)

Report (53 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Bell S, 'Monitoring of the Vulnerable Dracophyllum macranthum (Ericaceae) in Coorabakh National Park and environs, New South Wales North Coast bioregion: Baseline data', NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 44 (2017)
2017 Bell S, 'Field Validation of Wetlands Mapping on the Central Coast of New South Wales', NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 14 (2017)
2017 Bell S, 'Monitoring of the Critically Endangered Banksia conferta (Proteaceae) at Coorabakh National Park, NSW.', NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 46 (2017)
2016 Bell S, 'Distribution and condition of the threatened Melaleuca biconvexa (Myrtaceae) on the Central Coast of NSW', NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 51 (2016)
2016 Bell S, 'Briefing Note - Review of TEC boundary issues, Ramsgate Estate, Wyee', Lake Macquarie City Council, 8 (2016)
2016 Bell S, 'Monitoring of the endangered Pterostylis gibbosa (Orchidaceae) at Milbrodale, Hunter Valley, NSW.', NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 29 (2016)
2016 Bell S, 'An assessment of the vegetation occurring on coastal sands at Pelican Flats, Lake Macquarie LGA', Lake Macquarie City Council, 60 (2016)
2016 Bell S, 'Review of Conservation Management Plan in relation to Leafless Tongue Orchid Cryptostylis hunteriana, NSW South Coast', Biosis Pty Ltd, 20 (2016)
2016 Bell S, 'Ecological Thinning Trial within Warkworth Sands Woodland CEEC, Wollombi Brook BOA: Background and Baseline Data', Bulga Surface Operations (Glencore), 31 (2016)
2015 Bell S, 'Distribution, habitat and conservation status of Macrozamia flexuosa (Zamiaceae) in Lake Macquarie LGA and the lower Hunter Valley of New South Wales', Lake Macquarie City Council, 52 (2015) [O1]
DOI 10.13140/RG.2.1.3453.7366
2015 Bell S, 'External Review: Draft Threatened Plant Survey Guidelines', Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, 20 (2015) [O1]
2015 Bell S, 'Review of Offset Multipliers (Tg values) for Selected Threatened Species', NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 11 (2015)
2014 Bell SAJ, 'Supplementary Assessment of Kincumber Scribbly Gum Forest CEEC: Erina Land Capability Study', GeoLink Pty Ltd & Gosford City Council, 30 (2014) [R2]
2014 Bell S, 'Preliminary Data Analysis of Slaty Gum (Eucalyptus dawsonii) Forests & Woodlands in the Hunter Valley', Department of Environment, Ecological Communities Section, Protected Species & Communities Branch, 20 (2014) [R2]
2014 Bell S, 'Tablelands Snow Gum TEC: Field Survey & Classification Analysis, Southern Tablelands, New South Wales. Tallaganda & Badja State Forest Trial Areas.', NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, 98 (2014) [R2]
2013 Bell SAJ, 'Ecological Studies on Acacia dangarensis: Baseline Data to Inform Management', NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, 28 (2013)
2013 Bell SAJ, 'A Strategy for Monitoring Revegetation of Rehabilitation after Coal Mining. Ravensworth Operations, Hunter Valley', Xstrata Coal, 16 (2013)
2012 Bell SAJ, 'Update of Listing Advice and Fact Sheet for Weeping Myall - Coobah - Scrub Wilga Woodland/Low Forest of the Hunter Valley', Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities, 54 (2012)
2012 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, 'Vegetation and floristics of Sugarloaf State Conservation Area, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales', NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, 120 (2012)
2012 Bell SAJ, Carty A, 'Vegetation Mapping of the Singleton Military Area', Commonwealth Department of Defence, 203 (2012)
2012 de Lacey C, Bell S, Chamberlain S, 'Pittwater Native Vegetation Classification, pre-1750 Mapping and Vegetation Profiles', Pittwater City Council, 241 (2012)
2010 Bell SAJ, 'Lower Hunter Spotted Gum-Ironbark Forest EEC in the Warnervale Area, Wyong Shire', Wyong Shire Council, 19 (2010)
2010 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, 'Vegetation of the Worimi Conservation Lands, Port Stephens, New South Wales: Worimi NP, Worimi SCA & Worimi RP', NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, 64 (2010)
2009 Bell SAJ, 'The Natural Vegetation of the Gosford Local Government Area, Central Coast, New South Wales Revised & Updated', Gosford City Council, 445 (2009)
2009 Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation and floristics of Murrurundi Pass & Crawney Pass National Parks, Hunter Valley, New South Wales', NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change, 78 (2009)
2009 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Validation of Vegetation Mapping: The Glen Nature Reserve, Lower North Coast, NSW', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 18 (2009)
2008 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, 'Revised Vegetation Mapping of Wyong LGA: Stage 1 ¿ West of F3 Freeway', Wyong Shire Council, 21 (2008)
2006 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Vegetation of the Tomago and Tomaree Sandbeds, Port Stephens, New South Wales', Hunter Water Corporation, 260 (2006)
2006 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Vegetation Mapping of Watagans National Park & Jilliby State Conservation Area', NSW Department of Environment & Conservation, 20 (2006)
2006 Bell SAJ, 'Eucalyptus parramattensis subsp. decadens: Status, Distribution and Habitat', NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, 27 (2006)
2006 Bell SAJ, 'Eucalyptus parramattensis subsp. decadens: Status, Distribution and Habitat', NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, 27 (2006)
2004 Bell SAJ, 'Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland: A regional analysis with reference to the vegetation present in Hillview Street, Woy Woy', Gosford City Council, 29 (2004)
2004 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, 'Population count and assessment of Rutidosis heterogama (Asteraceae), Lower Hunter & Central Coast', Wyong Shire Council, 22 (2004)
2004 Bell SAJ, 'Data Audit of Vegetation Survey within the Central Coast LGA¿ s: 2000-2004', Hunter Councils, 48 (2004)
2003 Douglas S, Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation Survey & Mapping Bimberamala National Park, NSW South Coast', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 53 (2003)
2003 Douglas S, Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation Survey & Mapping Clyde River National Park, NSW South Coast', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 46 (2003)
2002 Bell S, Driscoll C, 'Population size and habitat of the endangered Acacia bynoeana Benth. (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in Lake Macquarie LGA', Lake Macquarie City Council, 13 (2002)
2002 Bell S, 'Preliminary Vegetation Survey of Karuah & Wallaroo Nature Reserves, north of Newcastle, New South Wales', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 11 (2002)
2002 Peake T, Bell S, Tame T, Simpson J, Curran T, 'Warkworth Sands Woodland ¿ An Endangered Ecological Community: Distribution, Ecological Significance and Conservation Status.', Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, 15 (2002)
2002 Bell SAJ, 'The Natural Vegetation of the Wyong Local Government Area, Central Coast, New South Wales', Wyong Shire Council, 386 (2002)
2002 Bell SAJ, Driscoll C, 'Population size and habitat of the endangered Acacia bynoeana Benth. (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) in Wyong Shire', Wyong Shire Council, 11 (2002)
2001 Bell SAJ, Murray M, 'The Ecological Significance of Bow Wow Creek Gorge, Mulbring, Hunter Valley, New South Wales: A Nationally Significant Site', Cessnock City Council, 88 (2001)
2001 Bell SAJ, 'Distribution, Conservation & Management of the vulnerable Angophora inopina: Technical Report and Conservation Management Plan', Wyong Shire Council, 172 (2001)
2000 Bell SAJ, 'Data audit of vegetation survey in the Hunter Region', NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, 200 (2000)
1998 Bell SAJ, 'Popran National Park Vegetation Survey: A Fire Management Document', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 256 (1998)
1998 Bell SAJ, 'Wollemi National Park Vegetation Survey: A Fire Management Document', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 487 (1998)
1998 Bell SAJ, 'Lake Macquarie SRA, Pulbah Island NR, and Tingira Heights NR Vegetation Survey: A Fire Management Document', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 231 (1998)
1998 Bell SAJ, 'Glenrock SRA and Awabakal NR Vegetation Survey: A Fire Management Document', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 254 (1998)
1997 Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation Survey and Mapping of Crown Land, south of Manobalai Nature Reserve, Upper Hunter Valley', NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, 216 (1997)
1997 Bell SAJ, 'Tomaree National Park Vegetation Survey: A Fire Management Document', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 140 (1997)
1997 Bell SAJ, 'Vegetation Survey and Mapping of Crown Land, south of Manobalai Nature Reserve, Upper Hunter Valley', NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, 216 (1997)
1995 Bell S, 'Flora survey of the Wilpinjong fuel management area, Goulburn River National Park', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 27 (1995)
1993 Bell SAJ, Vollmer J, Gellie N, 'Yengo National Park and Parr State Recreation Area. Vegetation Survey for Use in Fire Management', NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 110 (1993)
Show 50 more reports

Thesis / Dissertation (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Bell SAJ, Defining and mapping rare vegetation communities: improving techniques to assist land-use planning and conservation, University of Newcastle (2013)
1990 Bell SAJ, Effects of the weed Scotch Broom on bird communities in open forests on Barrington Tops, University of Newcastle (1990)
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $30,150

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20061 grants / $20,000

Improved Methods of Predicting Threatened Species Preferred Habitat$20,000

Funding body: NSW Environmental Trust

Funding body NSW Environmental Trust
Project Team

Stephen Bell

Scheme Environmental Education Program
Role Lead
Funding Start 2006
Funding Finish 2007
GNo
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON N

20041 grants / $1,500

An assessment of the vegetation occurring on coastal sands at Pelican Flats, Lake Macquarie LGA$1,500

Sixteen vegetation communities have been mapped and defined through numerical and intuitive classification for Pelican Flats, within Lake Macquarie local government area. This area, occupying 768 ha between Belmont and Swansea, is comprised almost exclusively of Holocene sand deposits which have developed a diversity of vegetation communities dependent on drainage and proximity to oceanic onshore winds. Due to a long history of human occupation in this area, only 29% (or 225 ha) currently supports native vegetation.

The diversity of vegetation communities present at Pelican Flats includes one grassland (Beach Spinifex), one saltmarsh (Saltmarsh), two rushlands (Estuarine Juncus Rushland, Phragmites Rushland), seven scrubs and heaths (Coastal Sand Banksia Scrub, Coastal Sand Bottlebrush Wet Heath, Coastal Sand Foredune Scrub, Coastal Sand Wallum – Heath, Mangrove – Estuarine Complex, Tomago Clay Wallum Scrub, Bitou Bush Scrub), two dry forests (Lake Macquarie Spotted Gum Forest, Pelican Bangalay Forest), and three swamp forests (Coastal Sand Swamp Forest, Swamp Mahogany – Livistonia Swamp Forest, Swamp Oak – Rushland Forest). Detailed descriptions of each of these communities is provided, and their distributions mapped. Nearly all are present elsewhere in the local government area and region; the exceptions are Tomago Clay Wallum Scrub (which also occurs in Port Stephens LGA) and Pelican Bangalay Forest (endemic to Lake Macquarie). The latter is floristically related to three other regional communities; a focused numerical analysis of these four communities has shown that Pelican Bangalay Forest is significantly different (p<0.001) to the Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland from Gosford LGA (a listed Endangered Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995), Pearl Beach Sand Forest (Gosford LGA) and Tomago Apple-Banksia Forest (Port Stephens LGA).

Vegetation present at Pelican Flats is representative of three Endangered Ecological Communities (Coastal Saltmarsh, Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest, Swamp Sclerophyll Forest on Coastal Floodplains), incorporating six of the defined communities for the area. Although not currently listed as such, the highly restricted Pelican Bangalay Forest meets the IUCN criteria for a Critically Endangered ecosystem, based on an estimated 72% loss of geographical distribution since 1750 (32 ha down to 9 ha), a current-day Extent of Occurrence of 145 ha (1.45 km2), and an Area of Occupancy of just one single 10 x 10 km grid cell. It follows, therefore, that Pelican Bangalay Forest qualifies as Critically Endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, and it is suggested that a nomination to this effect be prepared.

Funding body: Lake Macquarie City Council

Funding body Lake Macquarie City Council
Project Team

Stephen Bell

Scheme Lake Macquarie Environmental Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2004
Funding Finish 2005
GNo
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Local
Category 2OPL
UON N

20001 grants / $4,250

Demography and Conservation Status of Selected Acacia bynoeana Populations within the Lake Macquarie LGA$4,250

Funding body: Lake Macquarie City Council

Funding body Lake Macquarie City Council
Project Team

Stephen Bell

Scheme Lake Macquarie Environmental Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2000
Funding Finish 2001
GNo
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Local
Category 2OPL
UON N

19991 grants / $4,400

Distribution, habitat and conservation status of Macrozamia flexuosa (Zamiaceae) in Lake Macquarie LGA and the lower Hunter Valley of New South Wales$4,400

Macrozamia flexuosa (Zamiaceae) is a rare cycad endemic to the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Several populations are known from Lake Macquarie local government area (LGA), although little other information is available on the species. Currently carrying a conservation risk code of 2K, a review of the distribution and habitat of this poorly known species has found that it occupies a range of habitats within the LGA and region, and that on current information is not under immediate threat. An existing IUCN Red List assessment of Endangered is current for this species (although it is not listed in threatened species legislation), but a re-evaluation using contemporary data suggests this to be inappropriate.

GIS analysis of existing records of Macrozamia flexuosa for the region (n=551) and Lake Macquarie LGA (n=71), showed that the species occurs most prevalently in Permian-aged sediments (principally the Newcastle Coal Measures in Lake Macquarie, at 82% of records, but in the Branxton, Farley and Rutherford Formations elsewhere in the region). Older Carboniferous sediments (particularly the Wallaringa Formation) are also well represented in the data regionally (such sediments are absent in Lake Macquarie), although this is likely the result of previous concentrated survey effort within Columbey National Park. Smaller occurrences are evident within the younger Triassic Narrabeen and Quaternary sediments within Lake Macquarie and regionally.

The most frequent soil landscapes supporting the species in Lake Macquarie are the Awaba and Warners Bay units, together accounting for 73% of all records (n=71). Consistent soil landscape data for the remainder of the region is unavailable. All Lake Macquarie records fell within the 1000-1200 mm/yr annual rainfall bands, but regionally a larger spread was evident ranging from <700mm/yr to ~1400mm/yr. This suggests that the distribution of Macrozamia flexuosa is not limited or determined by available soil moisture, and that the species is tolerant of a wide range of moisture conditions.

Within Lake Macquarie LGA, three local-scale vegetation communities comprise the majority of Macrozamia flexuosa records (54% of 71 records): two of these (Lake Macquarie Spotted Gum Forest & Hunter Valley Moist Forest) are strongly dominated by Corymbia maculata in the canopy, over a semi-mesic understorey. Small numbers of records (1-6) also occur within an additional 12 local-scale vegetation communities, and 7 records fall in areas now cleared of vegetation.

Regionally, interpolation of database records across 175,000 hectares of locally-accurate vegetation mapping shows that Macrozamia flexuosa has been most frequently recorded within the Lower Hunter Spotted Gum-Ironbark Forest (41% of 383 records), followed by Kurri Sands Swamp Woodland (16%), Coastal Foothills Spotted Gum-Ironbark Forest (15%) and Coastal Plains Smooth-barked Apple Woodland (13%). The remaining 15% of records are spread across a further thirteen regional and four non-regional (local) communities, each all supporting less than 4% of records.

Numerical analysis of full floristic plot data (n=86; 13 in Lake Macquarie LGA) has highlighted the importance of five regionally-defined vegetation communities for Macrozamia flexuosa, which largely supports results obtained in the GIS analysis of observation records: the Lower Hunter Spotted Gum-Ironbark Forest (Unit 17, & including a transitional form from Cessnock LGA), Hunter Valley Moist Forest (Unit 12), Kurri Sands Swamp Woodland (Unit 35), Coastal Plains Smooth-barked Apple Woodland (Unit 30), and Coastal Foothills Spotted Gum-Ironbark Forest (Unit 15). For each of these five communities, Macrozamia flexuosa contributes 3-5% of the diversity of all species present, with it also ranking in the top ten most important diagnostic species for each community. Other less important regional communities include Seaham Spotted Gum-Ironbark Forest (Unit 16), Coastal Plains Scribbly Gum Woodland (Unit 31) and Sandstone Grey Myrtle Sheltered Forest (Unit 10). Six of these regional communities are known to occur within Lake Macquarie LGA (Units 10, 12, 15, 17, 30 & 31).

In the light of this study, a review of the conservation significance of Macrozamia flexuosa suggests that the existing conservation risk code of 2K be revised to 3RCa (distributional range >100km; rare but not immediately threatened; adequately conserved in at least 13 conservation reserves). Under the IUCN (2001) threat criteria, a code of NT (Near Threatened) is here considered appropriate for Macrozamia flexuosa, recognising some of the uncertainties applicable to the assessment of Criteria A and B. This finding is in contrast to the current Red List assessment of Endangered for this taxon, but is consistent with studies on other Macrozamia that are also listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Based on anecdotal observations of reproduction and dispersal in this species, it is plausible that Macrozamia flexuosa may currently be in decline due to limitations in flowering, pollination, or dispersal mechanisms over a long period of time (many decades), with the longevity of individual specimens confounding any observable trends. The suggested further research (population age structure, flowering cues, pollinator presence, pollination success, seed production rates, seed predation and dispersal, and the impacts of repeated fire) will go some way towards clarifying this situation, particularly in regard to quantifying recruitment in this species and how that may impact on IUCN assessments of observable continuing decline (Criterion A). Depending on the outcomes of such research, and the extent of land clearing and development in existing habitat that may continue in coming decades, a review of the NT coding for Macrozamia flexuosa may be necessary.

Funding body: Lake Macquarie City Council

Funding body Lake Macquarie City Council
Project Team

Stephen Bell

Scheme Lake Macquarie Environmental Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 1999
Funding Finish 2000
GNo
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - Local
Category 2OPL
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed1
Current0

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2006 Honours Defining hanging swamps on the Somersby Plateau, NSW. An examination of floristics, structure and the influence of fire
&lt;p&gt;The Somersby Plateau consists of a diverse array of vegetation types many of which have been well studied and documented. However, for the wet heath vegetation of hanging swamps little work has been carried out to provide a detailed definition of what a hanging swamp is, where they occur in the landscape and how fire influences floristic and vegetation structure. Although a number of regional scale vegetation mapping projects have identified hanging swamps as a discrete community a detailed account is lacking to describe the variation in floristic patterns occurring throughout the landscape. Without an understanding of the dynamics of hanging swamps, management to maintain both site and landscape diversity is difficult. Therefore, the primary aim of this study is to provide a definition of what a hanging swamp is (and what is not) by examining the floristics of a number of hanging swamps in relation to past fire events and environmental factors.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Hanging swamps are scattered throughout the landscape in locations where an interaction of geology, groundwater and topographic position combine to produce edaphic conditions suitable to support a vegetation assemblage adapted to moist conditions. This vegetation type differs considerably to the vegetation surrounding hanging swamps creating a mosaic distribution pattern across the landscape. Variations in floristics and structure of hanging swamps is highly influenced by fire creating the potential to have various forms of hanging swamps due to variations in fire regimes.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;The scattered distribution pattern of hanging swamps presented many opportunities for sampling. Sites were selected according to their accessibility and time since the last fire event measured by the categories of Very Short (1-3 years), Short (4-6 years), Medium (7-14 years) and long 15 years since the last fire. Ten sampling locations extending from Kulnura on top of the Somersby Plateau to Patonga were identified and sampled for floristic composition and environmental factors.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination was used to examine patterns in the community structure based upon floristic composition, cover abundance and length of time since the last fire event. A clear separation was evident for locations subject to differing fire treatments identifying three broad floristic types. Floristic variation within each location was examined using hierarchical clustering analysis of replicate samples within each fire treatment. Quadrats forming floristically distinct clusters were defined at the 40-60% level of similarity. A total of nine clusters were identified suggesting nine possible floristic variations of hanging swamps existing within the study area.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;Vegetation structure and soil characteristics were examined using the BIO-ENV procedure which found only weak correlations between environmental factors and floristic composition. However limitations due to sampling timing may have reduced the significance of this test as field observations suggests soil moisture is a defining characteristic of hanging swamps.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;This study found that hanging swamps are represented within the landscape by a variety of floristic types highly influenced by fire. Furthermore, hanging swamps are not exclusively found on the edge of cliffs, moreover they can be associated with an array of factors the most apparent being soil moisture content of approximately 15%, the occurrence of key indicator species such as Schoenus brevifolius, Gonocarpus salsoloides and Hakea teretifolia and the depth to the underlying geology beneath the soil surface of hanging swamps.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;In light of this seven hanging swamp variants are described for the Somersby Plateau representing an interaction of floristics and geomorphic characteristics. Of all locations sampled two floristic variants were not considered to be hanging swamps as they lacked an interaction with underlying geology and supported species not representative of the wet heath vegetation of the hanging swamps defined.&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;To manage hanging swamps it is clear the influence fire has on floristics and structure also have to be managed. To produce the most species diverse community it appears an intermediate fire disturbance is required (fires occurring every 4-6 years). However this fire regime will not provide for a diversity of structural forms as fire intervals of a very short duration (1-3 years) have produced a community type much different to other fire treatments. Therefore, to maintain both species and structural diversity a combination of both fire regimes is necessary.&lt;/p&gt;
Ecology and Evolution, University of Newcastle Consultant Supervisor
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Dr Stephen Bell

Position

Conjoint Fellow
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science

Contact Details

Email stephen.bell@newcastle.edu.au
Mobile 0407 284 240

Office

Room .
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