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

6. Foci of biological diversity in the Northern Territory (continued)

6.9. Finke


75,282 km².

Primary land-use

Cattle grazing, Aboriginal lands.

National Parks and Nature Reserves


Management problems

Land degradation due to over-grazing (Bastin et al. 1993).

If exotic mosquito fish Gambusia affinis continue to spread in the Finke River drainage (Glover 1989) they may displace other native fish.

Rabbits, feral horses and camels are present in low numbers (Latz et al. 1981).

Tamarisks or athel pines Tamarix aphylla are spreading along the Finke River. The plants are renowned for their deep-ranging roots and ability to tolerate and indeed enhance salinity. They eventually displace native trees, principally river gums, which may then be washed away in floodwaters (Griffin et al. 1989).

ANZECC-listed species

The plains rat Pseudomys australis (V) was recorded in the mid 1970s (Corbett et al. 1975; Breed and Head 1991). It may still occur in the Region.

Species that are regionally endemic

The Finke River Basin has the greatest diversity of fishes of any central Australian river basin: 18 species in 10 families (Glover 1982). Three of the species – Neosilurus argenteus, Chlamydogobius eremius and Craterocephalus centralis – are endemic to the Lake Eyre and Western Plateau Drainage Divisions (Glover and Sim 1978; Crowley and Ivantsoff 1990).

Relict populations

No information.

Other significant populations

The Finke River channel, and its tributaries, provide habitat for a suite of riverine birds that otherwise would be unable to inhabit the Region (Griffin et al. 1989). Presumably many other taxa react similarly.

Wetland sites

The Karinga Creek Palaeodrainage System is a groundwater discharge lake running eastward from Lake Amadeus (see section 4.5) (Fleming 1993).


The Lake Amadeus and Karinga Creek drainage system appears to constitute a refuge (see section 12.5).