This knowledge is corroborated by Queensland Department of Primary Industry scientists in Brisbane, where Camphor laurel is now officially listed as a "suspicious species", because two horses died or had to be put down due to severe but differing symptoms in each case. The symptoms displayed by horses dying after eating Camphor at different locations around outer Brisbane are widely divergent. Official autopsy records clearly indicate how either different individuals within a species behave in varying ways, or the different tree chemotypes bring on totally differing symptomatologies.
Frogs A wet season bushwalk in 1997 revealed that smooth toadlet (Uperoleia laevigata) was highly vocal 'happy' in a 'frog chorus' - within a non-Camphor infested creek catchment at The Channon; whereas no frogs could be heard in an adjacent sub-catchment of equal size, and on the same soil type. The visits and comparisons, including frog species identification, was repeated three times. At Southern Cross University, Professor Peter Waterman (Phytochemistry) scrutinised the data and observations of the author (Friend, 1998) as published with DLWC support, and helped verify the results on frog and cane toad tadpoles found by the first series of toxicological experiments. Although Grieve (1931) in America first declared - without references or tests, etc. - that frogs died as a result of exposure to Camphor laurel, Friend (1998) was the first to conduct published experiments with tadpoles, proving that both native Australian frog, and toad (Bufo marinus) larvae succumbed and died within hours of exposure to quite low concentrations of bark, berry and leaf extracts - in that order of descending toxicity. Following some early criticism of his work, using tapwater for replicates and controls, Friend (1999) repeated the experiments, with larger volumes of collected rainwater: same result. The experiments, involving multiple replicates were repeated in darkness and shaded light, indoors and outdoors, with the same result each time: tadpoles at first appear anaesthetised, and subsequently die, at concentrations as low as 1 in 10,000 (.01%) camphor extract in water at 25°C. Frog species equally impacted were green tree frog (Litoria caerulea) and striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii)
Bats, bandicoots and possums Preliriinary surveys of a representative range of Lismore and surrounding village residents (2000-2002) has revealed the following: Greyheaded flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) First reported by key informants to have commenced consuming Camphor laurel fruit ca.1990, and repeatedly observed or heard feeding in Camphor trees at Corndale and The Channon (A. Hunter, personal communication), this evidence is yet to be taken seriously by NPEWS; the knowledge came from five notable persons, and in two cases persons reported seeing a low number of juvenile bats since 1990; sexual sterility for flying foxes eating copious volumes of Camphor berry has not been ruled out of the question. Bandicoot, long nosed (Perameles nasuta) Interest was raised in the possible reasons for multiple bandicoot deaths - of this species especially, due to its known 'long nose capability' of/for digging down and eating Camphor roots - since authoritative references (eg Australian Museum) report that this species will consume fresh tree/shrub roots. Over fifty freshly killed long nosed bandicoots have been independently collected and preserved for future tissue and stomach content analysis. However, observations and photos, as well as the author's direct experience of having one individual bandicoot run directly under the back wheels of the vehicle, and die, indicate that roadside Camphor infestations are highly correlated with the close and nearby deaths of this wildlife species. This is yet to be confirmed by toxicologists.
Possums Brush tailed Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) Ring tail Possum (Pseudocheiros peregrinus) Both once regarded as common species possum are no longer seen in or near the majority of Lismore's satellite villages, eg The Channon, Nimbin, Eitham - wherever significant Camphor densities remain - nor have they been seen for years anywhere near the Lismore CBD (and its treeside Camphors). Terrestrial species invertebrates insects, bees, etc. Repeated diggings and observations of freshly turned Camphor compost made from chipped Camphor laurel wood, thinnings and leaf have consistently revealed (Horticultural Industry Regional Reps., personal communications) that at least one species of earthworm is abundant in rotted down Camphor chip humus, from 6 months to 24 months of age.
If Camphor wood chip is not rotted or oxidised for at least two years, Camphor toxins like bark alkaloids, Safrole, or Camphor itself, have a deleterious impact, observable as a suppressive effect on most soil invertebrates other than earthworms, the most common species of earthworms.
Estuarine invertebrates As reported in NSW Environmental Action Journal WAVES (Friend 2001), when Camphor root extracts are exuded into fresh waterways, and turn 'opaque/cloudy', even before heavy rust-coloured precipitates descend to cover stream bottoms, all the native insect life of the streams and most estuaries disappears ... except mosquitoes! This has been repeatedly witnessed both in pondages and streams in the vicinity of The Channon, where more toxic Camphor laurel chemotypes are known to be common or abundant. Clearly, a critical concentration of Camphor with other exuded tree toxins (eg alkaloid/s + Safrole, and 1,8-Cineole) causes the deterrence or die-off of a range of aquatic/estuarine invertebrates. Consequently (in estuaries at least) fish will 'leam' that there is no significant in-stream food available, and move away from Camphor dominated areas.
Insecta Both blue-triangle and Macleay's swallowtail butterfly (Graphium macleayana) Are supposed to be able (as a species) to use Camphor laurels, indeed many laurel (Lauraceae) tree species as prime hosts for continuation of their life cycles. However, in five years of critical observations and second hand searching by request to other observers, the author is sure that Macleay's swallowtail is either 'rare' or a 'very rare' species around on in NSWs Northern Rivers rainforests. Whereas the blue triangle butterfly (Graphium choredon, see photo) was once commonplace on Camphor trees and laid eggs in sizeable numbers on most chemotypes around Sydney in the 1960's and before, only one place/cluster of Camphor trees is known to commonly support a big 'display' of frequently visiting fertile adult butterflies - near Bellingen, on NSWs North Coast.
Apart from a delta wing moth species which aggregates mear the growing tips of certain (less toxic?) chemotypes fairly evenly spread across most districts around Lismore, through to the Gold Coast, even this moth takes up residence in only about 1 in 200 to 1 in 250 Camphor trees. A small native pollinator insect, as yet unidentified, has been repeatedly collected. Few if any other insects, especially no other butterfly species, visit Camphor by day or night, eg, nil praying mantis, nil leaf/stem hoppers, nil chrysomelids, nil weevils, nil bugs!! However, studies to date have been restricted to the above ground parts of the Camphor trees.
Domesticated and native bees Over three years, involving approximately 10,000 detailed observations of Camphor inflorescences in spring and summer times, only in one place on one occasion was one European honey bee seen on or hovering near Camphor laurel blossom (old Camphor tree, ca 100 years, near Bangalow, probably early Chinese Camphor laurel introduction). No native bees have been sighted on or near Camphor trees at any time of the year, and a survey of naturalists corroborates what another survey of professional apiarists revealed in 2001: native bee species (Trigona spp.)now only inhabit tracts of country well away from Camphor laurel invasions or infestations, eg Evans Head or Ocean Shores. It is the experience of this author, through interviewing and closely knowing apiarists over the years, that such people are usually fine observers, but are also individualists who do not like to speak up on issues. The survey of Northern Rivers apiarists was therefore revealing in uncovering a unanimity of belief, based on longstanding observations, many over 50 years in beekeeping, proving that native bees are repelled by Camphors, and in all probability move their colonies/migrate well away (approx. 1-2 kms) from any upwind Camphor laurel infestations. This is suggestive of volatile compounds which are highly repellent and may be toxic.
Ants (Formicidae) Ants. A close inspection and survey of-some twenty sizeable and well established Camphor laurels in a mixed forest area/regrowth block of land owned by the Pre School at The Channon (north facing, Kangaroo sandstone) reveals that there are negligible ant colonies under the canopy of Camphors. The effect appears to extend out as far as Camphor roots extend, as mucha s 20 ms beyond the canopies. Similar observations, under and surrounding the mown easty-to-monitor flat, alluvial clay soils of Lismore's CBD trees (N=100), indicate that ant colonies, which normally allow our soils to breathe and let in essential oxygen and nitrogen, are no longer being turned over by any significant number of any ant species: small black ants, jumpingt ants, bull ants, or green ants; they all appear repelled. The above observations were made immediately prior to the March 2002 wet season's arrival, a time at which ant activity usually is known to reach an annual climax, especially on the readily 'moved'/labile Kangaroo type sandstone characteristic of The Channon. In the basal ground area under 100 Lismore Camphor laurel trees no more than 60 years old, over four seasons, observations prove that an insignificant number of small black ants still live inground, near the peripheral canopy shade zone of a minor number, 4 out of 100 trees. Older Camphors (> 100 years age) are shown more likely to support ants or, in one case, a feral European bee colony in a rotted out trunk. ( Lismore CBD).
Cicadas Of the above-mentioned 100 studied Camphor trees only a few (5-10) were noted to have cicada exit holes or cicada shells on their bark through all summer months of 2001 and 2001. In Sydney's Balmain, where one short street has been entirely closed (see photo) due to Camphors being planted down the median strip, and a garden was created underneath, no cicadas have ever been seen in these 4 trees, either crawling up or flying in! as compared to an older chemotype tree 1-2 blocks away, on which hundreds of cicada shells could be found.
Surveys on hot, humid days in early-mid summer driving slowly past groves of infested Camphor prove that cicadas, once common throughout, only now call from certain Camphor chemotypes, representing under 50% of all existing chemotypes.
CONCLUSIONS Wide-ranging anecdotal, scientifically tested evidence is collated for more than 20 native Australian wildlife species, including vertebrates, which in summary forms an almost overwhelming case against the feral Camphor laurel tree infestations that threaten to invade remnant World Heritage-listed rainforests of New South Wales' coast, and Southeast Queensland. Most outlying minor remnants of 'big scrub' bushland are already impacted by Camphor tree/seedling invasions, and it is these unattended areas where ever more toxic chemotypes appear to be arising, to multiply the future toxicity threat to remnant faunal biodiversity.
Chronological Record - History of the Camphor laurel in Australia Cinnamomum camphora L in Australia: record of death, poisoning and sterility in species normally unconnected to this tree 1880 Importation of second Japanese subspecies/C.camphora to Sydney, transferred to NSW * North Coast. 1900 "The Northern Star", Lismore, first reports camphor laurel as being an invasive weed; new chemotypes evolving, due to Chinese x Japanese subspecies intercrossing. 1950 Eminent Botanist and Naturalist Floyd (Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens) first reports camphor laurel killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of native pigeons when or after they are first observed feeding on camphor fruit and seed. 1960-70 Regional free-range poultry growers in Clarence and Richmond River valleys attempt to'alert' NSW Agriculture to the observation (anecdotal) that free-range poultry becomes sterile, laying" sterile eggs, when feeding: inter-seasonally on fallen camphor fruit or fruit flesh. 1970-80 Usmore-based ornithologists observe a significant decline in district and regional native pigeon species makeup, with once high diversities reduced around the city, and only the most well adapted species (two of eight species) able to visibly increase in population numbers - camphor first suspected of poisoning or causing sterility of other bird species. Coffs Harbour/Orara River graziers notice no significant remaining native fish population in the river waters under or anywhere near dense camphor infestations overhanging and lining that river's banks (Bishop, 1993).\ 1980 ca The blue-faced honeyeater, becoming rare to non-existent in spite of having been the third most common bird species eating camphor berries in 1970.2 1985 Tweed River fishermen collectively decide to refuse to fish commercially upstream, due in part to their claim that camphor infestations cause fish to be repelled or no longer reside in the river; near where there is camphor. Mororo River (Iluka) craypot fishers report concern that 30m around or anywhere near camphors on the river banks is a deterrent to all crays and 50% offish. Tweed River (Tumbulgum) and now defunct Mullumbimby sawmills report acute poisoning and skin sensitivities, leading to staff layoffs of mill workers sawing camphor's more toxic, and most toxic, chemotypes. 1990(ca) 1993 Bishop3 (Mitchell, McCotter and Assoc.of Sydney) first publishes results of in-river tests demonstrating that uncrushed or crushed camphor laurel leaves-falling into the Orara River - kill native rainbow fish; 100% kill offish noted in statistically-tested, controlled research. 1997 First observation/s (The Channon-Lismore) that wet-season 'frog chorus' cannot be heard in camphor infested gullies nearby biodiverse and frog dense gullies with no significant camphor laurel infestations, on the same geological-soil type, same aspect, same slope and similar R/F - wet scherophyll vegetation. (Friend, 1998).4 1998 First observations that frogs common to Northern Rivers roadsides, ditches, drains and swampy edges are neither abundant, nor/never croaking in proximity to (est.>50ms) camphor laurels, including seedlings as compared to all sites visited 'in the wet' on a road transect from Rous to The Channon, demonstrating 100% correlation between remnant/ viable frog populations and remnant (no camphor) native vegetation.
Tweed River game bird fancier reports that all his birds turned sterile when growing under camphor laurels; one commercial duck grower reports similarly. ("The Advocate", Murwillumbah, 10/3/98). ' 1998 Friend first publishes a report5 for the Land and Water Conservation Department, NSW) indicating that camphor laurel plant parts, especially roots and berries, are at least as toxic , as the distilled camphor oil from young, local camphor laurel trees. 1998-99 Hunter6 reports on years of goose sterility in his free-range geese, grazing liberally under older camphor trees. After he penned up one even-aged female, the bird began laying edible goose eggs again, and is no long egg-sterile, following a month of normal feed. Monumental Blunders NSW Agriculture Department imports the Japanese subspecies (according to East Asia's best botanists in 1882, in a glass cabinet on a boat), one of which is transported to the North Coast and reputedly planted near Burringbar and/or Wollongbar; Chinese and Japanese trees outcross, and birds adapt, so new hybrid cultivars begin their steady march across the countryside. After N.S.W. Agriculture Department dropped its original plans to set-up a camphor oil industry in this state, the trees just 'went wild' and began to invade where birds spread them. N.S.W. Forestry (>1916) began to raise the trees and give them away to farmers suffering drought on, by then, excessively cleared dairy properties. From cal935 onwards the NSW Education Department commenced a policy of distributing 4-6 camphor laurel seedlings to every school across the entire state (even to Alice Springs), which policy continued through to approx 1960 under the guise of "all trees being shade providers, must be good trees", without exception. The NSW. Agriculture Department continues (1998 - 2000) to ignore thirty years of community concern and knowledge that free-range poultry, geese and pigeons turn sterile eating camphor laurel, eg at Wollongbar, the NSW Agriculture Department's "Camphor Avenue" remains their official entrance to the Environmental Institute. 1. Bishop, K.A., 1993, Aquatic Studies - Freshwater Fishes. Coffs Harbour Water Supply Augmentation EIS Stage One - Data Collection. In-Situ Toxicity Experiment. Environmental Impact Statement (Karangi Dam); Mitchell-McCotter & Associates, Environmental Consultants, Sydney. 2. Firlh, D.J., 1979, Ecology of Cinmunomum camphora (L) Nees el. Ebenn in the Richmond Tweed Region of North Eastern NSW, Thesis, Department of Botany, University of New England, Armidale. 3. Bishop, K.A., 1993, Aquatic Studies - Freshwater Fishes. Coffs Harbour Water Supply Augmentation EIS Stage One - Data Collection. In-Situ Toxicity Experiment. Environmental Impact Statement (Karangi Dam); Mitchell-McCotter & Associates, Environmental Consultants, Sydney. 4. Friend, J.A., 1998, The Lethal Dosage of Camphor Laurel Oil, Exudates, and Plant-parts on some Australian Frog Species, Report published NSW Land and Water Department, Alstonville. 5. Friend, J.A., 1999, Australian Journal of Ecology, article Friend, J.A., 1998, The Lethal Dosage of Camphor Laurel Oil, Exudates, and Plant-parts on some Australian Frog Species, Report published NSW Land and Water Department, Alstonville. 6. A. Hunter, personal story (2000) Comdale, Lismore Joe A. Friend, 7/3/02
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