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

5. Foci of biological diversity in South Australia

5.1. Great Victoria Desert


211,068 km².

Primary land-use

Crown land, conservation reserves and Aboriginal land.

National Parks and Nature Reserves

Great Victoria Desert Nature Reserve (part), Queen Victoria Spring Nature Reserve, Plumridge Lakes Nature Reserve (part), Neale Junction Nature Reserve, Yeo Lake Nature Reserve and Baker Lake areas (McKenzie and Burbidge 1979), all in Western Australia. The Unnamed Conservation Park in north-eastern South Australia (Greenslade et al. 1986), and Tallaringa Conservation Park, Yellabinna Regional Reserve, and Yumbaria Conservation Park (South Australia).

Management problems

Rabbits, house mice, camels, foxes and feral cats appear to be present throughout the Region (e.g. McKenzie and Burbidge 1979). In the South Australian desert rabbits are a major problem, causing loss of tree and shrub species by eating seedlings (Bird in Greenslade et al. 1986). In isolated parts of the Yellabinna area, tourist traffic may be leading to some degradation (Copley 1992).

ANZECC-listed species

Mammals: Sandhill dunnarts Sminthopsis psammophila (V) occur in the vicinity of Queen Victoria Spring (Hart and Kitchener 1986; Pearson and Robinson 1990), and in the Yellabinna area (Pearson and Robinson 1990; Kemper 1992).

Birds: Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata (E) are sparsely distributed throughout the South Australian portion of the Region (Black and Badman in Greenslade et al. 1986; Cohen et al. 1992; Garnett 1992, p. 32).

Plants: Symon and Copley (in Greenslade et al. 1986) collected Lepidium hyssopifolium (E) within the Unnamed Conservation Park; see also Cropper (1989).

Species that are regionally endemic

Reptiles: The dragon Diporiphora linga is endemic to the eastern Great Victoria Desert (Bird in Greenslade et al. 1986; Copley 1992), and D. reginae to the west (Cogger 1992). The skinks Lerista elongata and L. puncticauda occur only in the Region (Cogger 1992). A blind snake Ramphotyphlops margaretae is known only from Lake Throssell (Cogger 1992). The eastern population of Delma fraseri could be considered restricted and possibly at risk (Bird in Greenslade et al. 1986).

Plants: Grevillea treuriana, Lechenaultia sp. and Hibbertia crispula in Yellabinna (Copley 1992).

Relict populations

The plants Santalum spicatum, Daviesia arthropoda, Eucalyptus pimpiniana and Helichrysum monochaetum (Copley 1992).

Other significant populations

Mammals: The dasyurids Sminthopsis hirtipes and Antechinomys laniger are uncommon species found at Yellabinna (Copley 1992).

Birds: The Region is the centre of distribution of the scarlet-chested parrot Neophema splendida (Blakers et al. 1984; Black and Badman in Greenslade et al. 1986). Naretha blue-bonnet parrots Northiella haematogaster narethae have been recorded beyond proposed Plumridge Lakes Reserve; also reported by Black and Badman (in Greenslade et al. 1986). Pureba Conservation Park and Yellabina Regional Reserve in South Australia have slender-billed thornbills Acanthiza iredalei iredalei (Garnett 1992, p. 146). Australian bustards Ardeotis kori occur at Yellabinna (Copley 1992).

Reptiles: Diporiphora reginae has a restricted distribution around Queen Victoria Spring south to Fraser Range, and is regarded as significant or rare by Burbidge et al. (1976).

Plants: Eucalyptus trivalvis, Calytrix gypsophila, Comesperma viscidulum and Goodenia glandulosa are disjunct species represented at Yellabinna (Copley 1992). Symon and Copley (in Greenslade et al. 1986) noted seven other species of rare and endangered plants listed by Leigh et al. (1984): Calandrinia disperma, Darwinia micropetala, Frankenia cineria, F. muscosa (all collected within the Unnamed Conservation Park) and Lepidium pseudoruderale, Eucalyptus pimpiniana, Grammosolon truncata, and Gnephosis intosa.

Wetland sites

Morelli and Drewien (1993) recorded Serpentine Lakes, in the Unnamed Conservation Park near the border between South Australia and Western Australia, as a significant palaeodrainage system. There is little information about the Lakes.


Despite the lack of detailed data, Serpentine Lakes are noted as a refuge (see section 11.3).