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

11. Refugia in South Australia (continued)

11.12. Reference number SA12

Refuge area Northern Flinders Ranges

Biogeographic region Flinders and Olary Ranges

Type of refuge Gorges/mountain ranges

Lat./Long. 31°S / 139°E

Quality of refuge: Extremely significant (7)

Area (km²): <10,000

Chief refuge value

Habitat for ANZECC-listed species, and habitat for endemic and relict species.

General description

A north-south trending series of Ranges surrounded to east and west by arid and relatively featureless country. Through the Ranges cut a series of gorges, some of which contain permanent or persistent waters1, 2. Many significant plant species persist in the northern Ranges because of slightly elevated rainfall brought about by the interception of moisture-bearing clouds, and also because of retention of moisture in gorges. In addition, the presence of rare plants at many locations throughout the Ranges provides evidence of the ecological diversity of the Ranges and their conservation significance2.

ANZECC-listed species

The plants Senecio megaglossus, Acacia araneosa and A. menzelii3.

Regional endemics

The plants mentioned above appear almost or totally to be confined to the Ranges. The reptiles Aprasia pseudopulchella (Pygopodidae) and Ctenophorus vadnappa (Agamidae) are endemic to the Ranges4, and a fish, the Flinders Ranges gudgeon Mogurnda sp., is restricted to waterways in the Gammon Ranges National Park5.

Relict species

In addition to the evolutionary relict mentioned above (Mogurnda sp.), the yellow-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus has retreated to the Ranges. Although it has greatly declined, it is still known from 180 sites. Population size is estimated at 10,000-20,000; the animals are widespread throughout the region and in some areas are locally common6.

Other significant species

The plants Senecio georgianus, Myoporum refractum, Acacia iteaphylla, Sclerolaena bicuspis, Calostemma luteum, Galium binifolium, Grevillea huegelii, Enneapogon intermedius, Maireana eriantha, Tephrosia sphaerospora, Gypsophila australis, Olearia calcarea, Asplenium flabellifolium, Doodia caudata, Pteris tremula, and Nicotiana occidentalis obliqua2, 3.

Key threats

Land degradation due to over-grazing by rabbits, sheep and goats; declining water quality in streams because of visitation.

Land tenure

Flinders Ranges National Park, Gammon Ranges National Park, pastoral leases.

Key references

1. Morelli and Drewien (1993)

2. Greenwood et al. (1989)

3. Leigh et al. (1984)

4. Cogger et al. (1993)

5. Wager and Jackson (1993)

6. Lim et al. (1987)