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

14. Refugia in New South Wales (continued)

14.9. Reference number NSW9

Refuge area: Mallee remnants

Biogeographic region: Murray-Darling Depression

Type of refuge: Refuge from land clearing

Lat./Long. Scattered remnants from 140°E to 148°E

Quality of refuge: Highly significant (6)

Area (km²): <10,000

Chief refuge value

Large areas of mallee are now rare in eastern Australia, and those remaining comprise refuges for mallee-dependent organisms.

General description

Mallee regions have undergone massive changes since European settlement through clearing, grazing, and altered fire regimes. In eastern Australia, virtually all mallee is now residual, because as much as 90% of mallee vegetation has already been cleared. Populations of many species are now too small or too isolated to remain viable; now, all remnants should be considered part of the conservation network1, 2.

ANZECC-listed species

Among birds, the malleefowl Leipoa ocellata (E) is under intensive management because it has contracted to isolated populations3, 4. Black-eared miners Manorina melanotis (E) occur at only five sites in Victoria and perhaps in New South Wales, and are at great risk of extinction4.

The following plants from the area are at risk; the precise proportion occurring in mallee has not been established. In Victoria: Halosarcia flabelliformis (V), Phebalium lowanense (V), and Lepidium monoplocoides (E)5; in New South Wales: Codonocarpus pyramidalis, Stipa metatoris, Brachycome papillosa, Atriplex infrequens, and Swainsona pyrophila (all V)6, 7.

Regional endemics

The mallee emu-wren Stipiturus mallee is confined to fragmented mallee south of the Murray River in Victoria and South Australia4. It is at risk because of clearance of habitat, fire, and grazing.

Relict species

Rare or threatened plants from the Victorian and New South Wales mallee region, excluding the ANZECC-listed species mentioned above, are Epaltes tatei, Elachanthus glaber, Stipa nullanulla, Brachycome gracilis, Pterostylis xerophila, Spyridium spathulatum, Pimelea williamsonii, Swainsona laxa, Atriplex papillata and Phlegmatospermum eremaeum5, 6. Again, the precise proportion occurring in mallee has not been established.

Other significant species

Populations of striated grasswrens Amytornis striatus striatus occur in mallee remnants throughout the area4. The eastern subspecies of the regent parrot Polytelis anthopeplus anthopeplus is at risk from clearance of mallee and loss of nest-trees4.

Key threats

Clearing of vegetation.

Land tenure

Mallee Cliffs National Park, Yathong Nature Reserve, Nombinnie Nature Reserve, Round Hill Nature Reserve, Pulletop Nature Reserve, Quanda Nature Reserve, Murray-Sunset National Park, Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Calperum Reserve, freehold and leasehold land.

Key references

1. Noble et al. (1990)

2. Mallee Vegetation Management Working Group (1991)

3. Priddel (1990)

4. Garnett (1992)

5. Parsons (1990)

6. Fox (1991)

7. Bowen and Pressey (1993)