Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity

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The Burdekin Dry Tropics is an incredibly biodiverse region with biodiversity assets of national and international significance. Although dominated by savannah woodlands and grasslands its natural ecosystems span the full suite of tropical biodiversity and include mountainous rainforests and large river systems. The region forms a biogeographic feature known as the 'dry corridor' (Kikkawa & Pearce 1969) which adjoins wet tropical bioregions to the north and south and extends the range of fauna and flora more typical of the drier interior to the coast.

The region is comprised of three main bioregions, the Brigalow Belt North, the Desert Uplands and the Einasleigh Uplands (NLWRA 2002). Portions of the Wet Tropics, Central Queensland Coast, Southern Brigalow Belt and Gulf Plains bioregions also fall within the region. Within the bioregions there is a high diversity of vegetation types that in combination with particular landform settings form Regional Ecosystems (Sattler and Williams 1999) many of which are listed as endangered or of concern. Open woodlands and grasslands dominated by Eucalypts and Acacias predominate. Other vegetation types include closed riparian forests, rainforests, open forest, vine thickets, sedgelands and open wetlands, mangrove and freshwater swamp forests and coastal dune communities.

Biodiversity values in the region are significant and include recognised centres for species richness and endemism for birds (>300 species), mammals (>70 species), reptiles, amphibians, eucalypts and acacias (NLWRA 2002). The Brigalow Belt North and South, Einasleigh and Desert Uplands Bioregions have all been identified as biodiversity hotspots. The many significant biodiversity assets of the region also include parts of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, National Parks and Conservation Parks. Nature refuges and other Voluntary Conservation Agreements also cover sites of recognised biodiversity value within the region.

Despite the region being known as the 'Dry Tropics', wetlands are a significant feature with a large number within the region listed in the National Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (ANCA 1996). The coastal Townsville-Burdekin wetland aggregation is one of the most extensive on the Australian east coast (EPA 1999) and part of it is listed under the international Ramsar Convention. These coastal wetlands host regionally significant populations of breeding waterfowl and waterbirds and are of international significance as migratory wader bird habitat. Up to 50% of the migratory species listed under the JAMBA and CAMBA agreements occur in these wetlands (EPA 1996). Coastal wetlands including adjacent seagrass meadows in near shore waters provide regionally significant fish habitat and nursery areas and are recognised as a productivity hotspot supporting major commercial and recreational fisheries (Cappo & Kelley 2001).

At least 70 fauna species within the Burdekin Dry Tropics Region are listed as endangered, rare, vulnerable or extinct under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992. A number of species are also considered to have become locally or regionally extinct (BBIFMAC 2000, Sattler and Williams 1999). A large number (>100) of endangered and of concern regional vegetation ecosystems are also recorded within the region, (NLWRA 2002). In the southern half of the region most biogeographic sub-regions have greater than 50% of their regional ecosystems at risk and some (the Upper Belyando Floodout) have greater than 70% of regional ecosystems at risk (Morgan 2001). The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 identifies an extra 203 threatened, migratory, marine and cetacean species and 3 threatened ecological communities in the region that are environmentally significant.


  • Kikkawa & Pearce 1969 - Geographical distribution of land birds in Australia - a numerical analysis. Australian Journal of Zoology, 17: 821-840

  • NLWRA 2002 - Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2003. National Land and Water Resource Audit, Canberra.

  • ANCA 1996 - A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia, 2nd edn, Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Canberra

  • EPA 1999 - Report to Dept. Natural Resources: Cultural Heritage in the Burdekin Basin.

  • Cappo & Kelley 2001 - 2001 Connectivity in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area - An Overview of Pathways and Processes. P161 - 187, in Oceanographic processes of coral reefs: physical and biological links in the Great Barrier Reef. Wolanski, E (ed) CRC Press New York. DCILGPS 2000 Townsville-Thuringowa Strategy Plan: Framework for Managing Growth and Development. Queensland Department of Communication and Information, Local Government, Planning and Sport.Brisbane.

  • BBIFMAC 2000 - A Community Based Natural Resource Management Strategy for the Burdekin - Bowen Floodplain Subregion of the Burdekin Dry Tropics. Report to the Burdekin - Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BIFMAC).

  • Sattler and Williams 1999 - The conservation status of Queensland's bioregional ecosystems. Environment Protection Agency. Queensland.

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