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 (continued)

12.3. Reference number NT3

Refuge area: Lake Sylvester

Biogeographic region: Mitchell Grass Downs

Type of refuge: Wetland

Lat./Long. 18°50’S / 135°40’E

Quality of refuge: Significant (2)

Area (km²): <1,000

Chief refuge value

A major wetland providing an important breeding and migratory stop-over location for waterfowl in the sub-tropical inland of the Northern Territory.

General description

A seasonal wetland fed principally by the Playford River, Brunette Creek, and Boree Creek. Limited inundation occurs in most years, and extensive filling every three to five years1. Waterholes along the inflowing creeks may be permanent. The Lake was originally dominated by bluebush Chenopodium auricomum, but this has declined under grazing1.

ANZECC-listed species

None identified.

Regional endemics

None identified.

Relict species

None identified.

Other significant species

More than 50 species of waterbirds have been recorded in numbers of tens of thousands, many of which breed. Notable species are freckled duck Stictonetta naevosa and painted snipe Rostratula benghalensis1. The Lake also provides core habitat for unusual birds such as yellow chats Ephthianura crocea2 and flock bronzewings Phaps histrionica; the latter have been recorded coming to drink in numbers up to 100,0001.

Key threats

Grazing pressure causing land degradation.

Land tenure

Pastoral leases.

Key references

1. Fleming (1993)

2. Strong and Fleming (1987)