Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Riparian Woodlands of the Cooper Creek Floodplain

The riparian woodlands, around the lakes provide nesting sites for the water rats and tortoises. Reptiles found in the denser parts the woodlands along the channels and edges of the lakes, there are 2 skink species, a legless lizard and a dragon. On the floodplain habitat there are other species of reptile. Not far to the north, the Simpson Desert has a richer diversity of reptiles, and a different suite of reptile species. The Simpson Desert fauna has more skinks, the Cooper region has more snakes.

The woodlands are composed of river red gums and coolabahs that line the streams and water bodies are common across the arid zone. The woodland along the Cooper has a dense crown cover, with at least 4 distinct levels recognised. A number of species are restricted to the various levels of the woodland along the Cooper, some of which are the barking owl, evenly spread along the Cooper, Mallee ring-necked parrot, sacred kingfisher and restless flycatcher. Many other songbirds are associated with this habitat. There are some inland birds that avoid the riparian woodlands, staying in the more arid areas around them, inland thornbill, pink cockatoo, hooded robin, rufous whistler.

The predominant vegetation of the floodplain is shrubland of Lignum (Muehlenbeckia cunninghamii) that is 1-2 m high. This habitat has a number of birds that are commonly found in it, such as the chirruping wedgebill, banded whiteface and a rare bird, the grey grasswren that was discovered in 1967. It is the only grasswren found in swamps. The section of the habitat they live in is the dense lignum and swamp cane that is 1 m or more tall, probably because at this level it is above the floods that spread out over the land. They eat seeds, insects and occasionally water snails. They have a very restricted distribution, being found only at Goyder's Lagoon, the mouth of the Diamantina River and the Bullo River, always in a similar habitat. It is believed those known are relict colonies of a once widespread species. The swampy regions would have been much bigger before the last glacial period.

Sources & Further reading

Penny Van Oosterzee, The Centre - The Natural history of Australia's Desert Regions, Reed Australia, 1993 

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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading