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)

12.6. Reference number NT6

Refuge area: Carpentarian sandstone

Biogeographic region: Gulf Fall and Uplands

Type of refuge: Gorges/mountain ranges

Lat./Long. Centred on 17°S / 137°E

Quality of refuge: Extremely significant (7)

Area (km²): <10,000

Chief refuge value

A range of endemic and rare species confined to sandstone escarpments and rainforest remnants or vine thickets.

General description

An extensive area of highly dissected sandstone country with a sub-tropical climate. Relatively dependable seasonal rainfall allows the persistence of rainforest remnants and thickets in gorges within the complex, and many sandstone-specialists occur on the drier sandstone substrates1.

ANZECC-listed species

The ghost bat Macroderma gigas (V) occurs, as do the Carpentarian grasswren Amytornis dorotheae (V) and the Gouldian finch Erythrura gouldiae1,2.

Regional endemics

The Carpentarian rock-rat Zyzomys palatalis and an undescribed species of pebble-mound mouse Pseudomys sp. appear confined to the area1,3,4. In addition, a gecko Gehyra borroloola and the plants Astartea intratropica, Calytrix mimiana, Melaleuca aff. symphyocarpa and Trachymene glandulosa are probably endemic1.

Relict species

The vine thickets scattered along the rivers through the sandstone country probably contain relict species, including undescribed species of ferns1.

Other significant species

The plants Fimbristylis clavata, F. dolera, Tiliacora australiana, Brachychiton collinus, Livistona rigida, Arenga australasica and Heterodendrum tropica occur among sandstone1.

Key threats

Poor pastoral management and feral animals; fire management.

Land tenure

Pastoral leases, Aboriginal land.

Key references

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

2. McKean and Martin (1989)

3. Kitchener (1989)

4. Menkhorst and Woinarski (1992)