Biodiversity publications archive

Refugia for biological diversity in arid and semi-arid Australia

Biodiversity Series, Paper No. 4
S.R. Morton, J. Short and R.D. Barker, with an Appendix by G.F. Griffin and G. Pearce
Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1995

10. Refugia in Western Australia (continued)

10.13. Reference number WA13

Refuge area: Lake Argyle

Biogeographic region: Ord-Victoria Plains

Type of refuge: Wetland

Lat./Long. 16°05’ - 16°50’S / 128°20’ - 129°00’E

Quality of refuge: Significant (2)

Area (km²): <1,000

Chief refuge value

A major drought refuge for waterbirds in northern Australia, and a migration stop-over site for shorebirds.

General description

Lake Argyle is a reservoir on the Ord River. It has a total area when full of 70,000 ha and greater than 100,000 ha for several months after wet season floods. It is the largest man-made waterbody in Australia. The lower Ord floodplain supports tens of thousands of waterbirds, principally ducks and geese1,3,4.

ANZECC-listed species

None identified.

Regional endemics

None identified.

Relict species

None identified.

Other significant species

Seventy-four waterbird species have been recorded; 22 are listed under international treaties. There are 12 breeding waterbirds; unusual species include freckled duck Stictonetta naevosa, long-toed stint Calidris subminuta, and oriental pratincole Glareola maldivarum. See Williams for the freshwater fauna of Region2.

Key threats

Siltation of dam (ca. 24 million tonnes annually). Possible future impacts from mining in the catchment, or from introduction of exotic mat-forming aquatic plants such as Salvinia molesta5.

Land tenure

There is a National Park proposed at Lake Argyle. This would include the Carr Boyd Ranges (along the entire west side of lake) and islands in the lake5,6. Reserve 31165 includes most of the adjacent dryland north-east, east and south of the Lake.

Key references

1. Lane and McComb (1988)

2. Williams (1979)

3. Jaensch and Vervest (1990)

4. Jaensch and Lane (1993)

5. Kenneally and McKenzie (1991)

6. Burbidge et al. (1991)