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)

10.31. Reference number WA31

Refuge area: Edel Land, Heirisson Prong and Peron Peninsula

Biogeographic region: Geraldton Sandplains and Carnarvon

Type of refuge: Refuge from exotic animals

Lat./Long. 26°03’S / 113°23’E

Quality of refuge: Extremely significant (7)

Area (km²): <10,000

Chief refuge value

Refuge for rare and endangered mammals and reptiles.

General description

Long, narrow peninsulas jutting into Shark Bay; joined to the mainland by narrow isthmuses. Largely sand dunes covered with Thryptomene and Melalueca heath and Acacia scrub. Mostly gently undulating red sandplain and low sandhills. Vegetation is close tall shrubland of Acacia ramulosa and patchy thickets of A. ligulata and Lamarchea hakeifolia; some areas of hummock grassland Triodia plurinervata with numerous low shrubs of A. ligulata6.

ANZECC-listed species

Reintroduced populations of two mammals, the burrowing bettong Bettongia lesueur (E) and the Shark Bay mouse Pseudomys fieldi (E) on Heirisson Prong, constituting the only mainland populations of these species. Also probably Dirk Hartog black-and-white fairy-wren Malurus leucopterus leucopterus (V). On Peron Peninsula, thick-billed grasswren Amytornis textilis textilis5.

Regional endemics

The frog Arenophryne rotunda (also on Dirk Hartog Island)3, 4; and the pygopodids Aprasia haroldi, Pletholax gracilis edelensis and skinks Ctenotus youngsoni (also Dirk Hartog Island) and Menetia amaura3.

Relict species

The pale field-rat Rattus tunneyi is present on Heirisson Prong and adjacent Edel Land in areas ungrazed by sheep. Storr and Harold suggest that “the islands, peninsulas and gulfs of the [Shark Bay] area provide a refuge for nine relict or endemic species and subspecies” of reptile3. Four of these occur on Edel Land. Stromatolites in nearby Hamelin Pool7.

Other significant species

None identified.

Key threats

Predation from foxes and feral cats, habitat modification by rabbits. Erosion of dunes due to excessive use by four-wheel drive vehicles. Possibly wildfire after removal of domestic stock and goats.

Land tenure

Heirisson Prong is a “Community Biosphere Reserve” managed by the local mining community of Useless Loop. Much of Edel Land is part of Carrarang pastoral lease. Tourist use of sensitive areas is controlled by a ranger appointed by the leasee. A national park has been proposed for Edel Land, excluding Heirisson Prong. On Peron Peninsula, Francois Peron National Park and forestry lease (sandalwood).

Key references

1. Short and Turner (1993)

2. Short and Turner (1994)

3. Storr and Harold (1990)

4. Roberts (1990)

5. Garnett (1992)

6. Payne et al. (1987)

7. Burne (1991/92)

8. Burbidge et al. (1978)

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