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

12. Refugia in the Northern Territory

12.1. Reference number NT1

Refuge area: Pellew Islands

Biogeographic region: Gulf Coastal

Type of refuge: Islands

Lat./Long. 15°40’S / 136°50’E

Quality of refuge: Highly significant (4)

Area (km²): <10,000

Chief refuge value

Insular refuge for endemic and rare species of plants and animals.

General description

A group of sub-tropical islands, the largest of which is Vanderlin Island, characterised by remnant vine thickets and surrounded by mangrove stands and seagrass beds. The Islands are largely unaffected by European settlement1.

ANZECC-listed species

None identified.

Regional endemics

An undescribed skink Ctenotus sp. is known only from the Pellews. The plant Corchorus rostricephalus is found only on Vanderlin Island1.

Relict species

The vine thickets scattered along the coast of the Pellews probably contain relict species1.

Other significant species

The pale field-rat Rattus tunneyi and a fat-tailed antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus occur, and a rare plant Tephrosia subpectinata1. The Port McArthur tidal wetlands system is regarded as nationally significant for migratory waders and for dugongs Dugong dugon1, 2.

Key threats

None identified.

Land tenure

Barranyi National Park, Aboriginal land.

Key references

1. Northern Territory Department of Lands and Housing (1991)

2. Fleming (1993)