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)

10.4. Reference number WA4

Refuge area: Barrow Island group

Biogeographic region: Pilbara

Type of refuge: Islands

Lat./Long. 20°46’S / 115°24’E; 20°03’S / 115°51’E

Quality of refuge: Extremely significant (7)

Area (km²): <1,000

Chief refuge value

ANZECC-listed species; refuge for mammals from exotic species.

General description

Barrow is a large, arid island of 230 km², 60 km off coast of WA. It is both a nature reserve and an oilfield. Middle and Boodie Islands are smaller islands off the southern coast of Barrow. The dominant vegetation on Barrow Island is hummock grassland (Triodia wiseana, T. angusta, and T. pungens).

ANZECC-listed species

Mammals: Burrowing bettong Bettongia lesueur (E) (Barrow Island; occurred on Boodie Island until 1985 and reintroduced in 19934), golden bandicoot Isoodon auratus (E) on Barrow and Middle Islands1, 4, Barrow Island euro Macropus robustus isabellinus4 (V), black-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis1 (V).

Birds: Barrow Island fairy-wren Malurus leucopterus edouardi2 (V).

Reptiles: Very significant rookery for green turtles Chelonia mydas (V) along west coast of Barrow, Middle and Boodie Islands6. Hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricata (V) nest occasionally on Barrow Island6. Nest in significant numbers on adjacent Lowendal Islands (20° 39' S / 115° 34' E)7.

Regional endemics

Birds: Barrow Island fairy-wren Malurus leucopterus edouardi2.

Reptiles: Ctenotus pantherinus acripes7.

Mammals: Golden bandicoot Isoodon auratus barrowensis, spectacled hare-wallaby Lagorchestes conspicillatus conspicillatus4, Barrow Island euro Macropus robustus isabellinus7.

Relict species

Many of the ANZECC-listed species have become extinct on the mainland, and constitute relict populations.

Other significant species

Northern brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula arnhemensis1, 4, water rat Hydromys chrysogaster7. Large rookery (> 300) of flatback turtles Chelonia depressa on east coast of Barrow Island7.

Key threats

Introduction of exotic species such as Rattus rattus and fox or cat; some disturbance due to oil-drilling.

Land tenure

Nature Reserves.

Key references

1. Butler (1970, 1975)

2. Schodde (1982)

3. Buckley (1983)

4. Short and Turner (1991, 1993, 1994)

5. Burbidge and Main (1971)

6. R.I.T. Prince (pers. comm.)

7. Burbidge (1989)