Beetaloo Ecology reports

The complete report and appendix is available via download. 

Report summary 

The Beetaloo GBA region Baseline Survey Program was undertaken to provide baseline data on the biodiversity of the GBA Beetaloo Extended Survey Area (BESA), Northern Territory. This includes both the Beetaloo Sub-basin and the area immediately beyond (as defined by the Beetaloo GBA Stage 2 report) where potential environmental and hydrological impacts associated with the emerging shale gas industry may occur. Relatively few surveys have been undertaken of the plants, animals and ecosystems of the region so this program was designed to collect baseline information for the Beetaloo GBA. The program also supported the development of further surveys to be undertaken as part of the Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA). The program was delivered through the collaboration of researchers at Charles Darwin University (CDU), Griffith University (GU) and the NT Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS). The work was developed with the Commonwealth GBA program (which included all partners and contracted support) to ensure that it informed the broader SREBA as required by the NT Government.  

The program comprised three themes: Environmental Mapping; Terrestrial Biodiversity; and Aquatic Biodiversity. It ran from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021, with a three-month delay in fieldwork imposed by COVID travel restrictions from late March, 2020. The following key findings are summarised here and presented in greater detail in the full report available from the product download tab on the left. 

  • Mapping has been undertaken that provides information on the vegetation classes and surface waterbodies in the BESA. Regional ecosystems have been described and a total of 1,664 plant taxa have been recorded (Chapter 1).  

  • New field records of EPBC-listed species in the BESA, including the Gouldian finch, crested shrike tit, greater bilby, Gulf snapping turtle and the freshwater sawfish, have been obtained (Chapters 1 and 3).

  • Published and unpublished data for waterbirds and migratory waterbirds for Lake Woods, Longreach Waterhole, Sturt Plateau wetlands and the Roper River (at Elsey National Park) have been synthesised, with 81 species recorded to date (Chapter 1).  

  • A list of terrestrial vertebrates in the BESA, comprising 494 species, has been compiled from the NT Fauna Atlas (Chapter 1).  

  • Field surveys of ants at 20 BESA sites have recorded 232 ant species from 27 genera and indicated the existence of new species (Chapter 1). 

  • Species distribution models, showing predicted habitat suitability and occurrence records across Australia and within the BESA, have been developed for 26 Environmentally Protected Matters (EPM) species incorporting new data acquired during this project. Further refinements of these models may be undertaken as part of the SREBA (Chapter 2). 

  • The 14 surface waterbodies, across four catchments (the Daly, Roper, Limmen Bight and Victoria River-Wiso) that held water in 2020 represent drought refugia (because they are likely to persist through the driest of conditions). Further refugia are likely to be identified by the SREBA (Chapter 3). 

  • Aquatic fauna surveys detected five species of freshwater turtles, 30 species of fish and 195 species of aquatic invertebrates. More than 20% of the latter appear to be new to science and 40% are new records for the region (Chapter 3). 

  • Baseline information on stygofauna was collected through a separate project funded by CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) and no additional surveys were undertaken in this program. Results are available at:  

Overall, the GBA program has made a very valuable contribution to documenting the biodiversity of the BESA. The new and extensive datasets described in this report provide a foundation for further surveys to be undertaken as part of the SREBA. The combined results of the GBA program and the SREBA will provide the information needed to identify areas of high conservation value and to evaluate the potential impacts of resource development on biodiversity within the region. It will inform future environmental impact assessments and support the development of ecological monitoring programs. 

Last updated:
22 September 2021