North Queensland Naturalist 48 (2018): 1-17

Abstract

The Camooweal caves and karst lie close to the Northern Territory border in northwest Queensland. The karst provides a good example of semi-arid dolomite karst, a style under-represented globally in protected areas. Although a great deal is known about the geology and geomorphology of the Camooweal karst, little is known about its biology, especially underground. Over fifty caves have been explored and mapped since the 1970s, with the longest being in excess of 5000 m. The caves descend in a series of steps to the regional water table about 75 m below the surface. The caves have populations of endangered or vulnerable bat species, specifically the Ghost Bat Macroderma gigas and the Orange Leaf-nosed Bat Rhinonicteris aurantius. A new species of amphipod of the genus Chillagoe has been collected from the Nowranie caves. An extensive karst groundwater body is fed by seasonal runoff and is subject to pollution from cattle grazing within the Camooweal Caves National Park. Weed invasion and fire management are ongoing issues for protected area management.