top of page
Decorative background
North Queensland Naturalist logo

Volume 48


pp. 1-17

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.

David Gillieson and Keith McDonald

Natural heritage values and management of the Camooweal karst and caves

Gillieson & McDonald 2018

pp. 18-20

The Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) eats mainly seeds of grasses and forbs and some insects and other arthropods. Here, we report repeated foraging by a flock of these finches on nectar obtained from Desert Bloodwood (Corymbia terminalis) flowers, with observations over four days in Boodjamulla National Park, and provide links to videos of them doing so.

Patrick De Geest and Donald C. Franklin

Crimson Finches feeding repeatedly on nectar

De Geest & Franklin 2018

pp. 21-25

The Square-tailed Kite and Little Eagle are uncommon in far north Queensland and when present they are usually non-breeding visitors in the dry season. However, at Mount Molloy a pair of Square-tailed Kites nested in 1997 and in every year from 1999 to 2010, demonstrating remarkable faithfulness to the site and nests. Little Eagles nested 45 to 75 m away in at least five years between 2000 and 2009 inclusive. Collared Sparrowhawks also nested close by. Both the kite and eagle nested from June to November. These kite and eagle records are, we believe, the northernmost breeding records for these species, and their close association (along with the Collared Sparrowhawk) is intriguing.

Rupert A.W. Russell and Donald C. Franklin

Nesting by Square-tailed Kite and Little Eagle at Mount Molloy in north Queensland

Russell & Franklin 2018

pp. 26-29

Boundaries between upland rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest dominated by Rose Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) are dynamic, being influenced by climate and fire, with recent expansion of rainforest attributed by some to the exclusion of fire from eucalypt forest. We document a case in which an intense fire burnt an area of rainforest in 2002, a year of severe drought; subsequently at least two Rose Gum seedlings germinated within it, 90 m from the nearest potential mother tree. These seedlings were revisited in 2012 and 2017. Fifteen years after the fire they are trees with diameters of 43 and 48 cm at 1.3 m above ground. This small case study shows that the occurrence of Rose Gums within rainforest is not necessarily evidence of rainforest expansion, so offering an important caution in interpreting the dynamics of these vegetation boundaries.

Rupert A.W. Russell and Donald C. Franklin

Rose Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) seedlings arising in burned rainforest: a small case study

Russell & Franklin 2018b

pp. 30-38

Eucalyptus grandis W.Hill (Rose Gum) is one of a few dominant large tree species in the tall eucalypt forests of northern Queensland. Contrasting views are held over the role of fire in the management of the species. I review current information and present new data on the ecology of E. grandis in northern Queensland to inform management to ensure the continued recruitment of the species. Eucalyptus grandis is a facultative seeder able to recruit every 2–3 years if its habitat is burnt or otherwise disturbed. Establishment of seedlings and saplings is most frequent in communities with a grass/sedge ground layer and the maintenance of this layer is vital. The species lacks the ability to root sucker but can survive fires by basal coppicing; individuals as small as 2 cm DBH can survive a medium intensity fire while those top-killed will repeatedly coppice. At present a number of drivers, most notably rainforest encroachment, limits both prescribed and wild fires reaching communities in which E. grandis occurs. Consequently, recruitment is limited. Regardless of the fire regimes that shaped these communities, I recommend they be burned at a 3–5 year frequency. To ensure this occurs an emphasis should be placed on opportunistic prescribed burning at any intensity and in either early or late dry season.

Matt Bradford

Eucalyptus grandis (Rose Gum) in northern Queensland: a species under fire

Bradford 2018

pp. 39-45

The Water Mouse, Xeromys myoides, is confined to the coastal zone of Queensland and the Northern Territory, Australia and Papua New Guinea. There is a knowledge gap on the distribution of the species between the most northern records for the species at Airlie Beach, Queensland and East Arnhem, Northern Territory. Two sites were surveyed in Cairns with remote cameras and Elliott traps. Three cameras captured images of water mice and remains from one predated specimen were found at one of the two survey sites. This survey confirms the presence of a population of Xeromys myoides in Cairns, Queensland, thereby significantly extending the known distribution of the species in Queensland.

Tina Ball and Andrew C. Mitchell

A new locality and range extension for the Water Mouse Xeromys myoides

Ball & Mitchell 2018

pp. 46-53

Thirty Mixed-Species Foraging Flocks (MSFFs) of birds were observed in rainforest at Kuranda, Queensland in the period January 2013 through June 2015. The flocks comprised Nuclear, Regular and Occasional Attendants comprising four, eleven and five species respectively. The Nuclear species, Spectacled Monarch Symposiachrus trivirgatus and Pied Monarch Arses kaupi (Monarchidae), Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa and Large-billed Scrubwren Sericornis magnirostris (Acanthizidae), were insectivores less than 20 g in weight; one or more of these was present in every MSFF observed. The mean number of species in flocks was 6.93±2.24 SD (range 2–11). More flocks were observed in the Dry Season (n=24) than the Wet Season (n=6). Equal numbers of flocks were observed in the morning and afternoon but none after 1700 hours. The findings are compared with those from other studies in the region and opportunities for further studies of MSFFs in the Australian tropics are discussed.

Gary W. Wilson and Robyn F. Wilson

Mixed-Species Foraging Flocks of birds in rainforest at Kuranda, Queensland

Wilson & Wilson 2018

pp. 54-56

Inshore habitats are well known to be important to the ecology of a range of stingray species. Here we report the use of a very small area of mangroves by juvenile Mangrove Whiptail Rays (Urogymnus granulatus) as high tide refugia on Magnetic Island, North Queensland.

Alastair B. Freeman, Tessa E.G. Freeman and Amanda N.D. Freeman

Even a few mangroves make a difference: observations of juvenile Mangrove Whiptail Rays (Urogymnus granulatus) in Geoffrey Bay, Magnetic Island

Freeman et al 2018

pp. 57-68

The Purple-flowered Wattle (Acacia purpureopetala) is the only wattle with purple or pink flowers. The species is known only from the Herberton-Irvinebank region in north Queensland, Australia. Its conservation assessment of Critically Endangered under Commonwealth legislation has been based on an estimated total population of 500 individuals in 10 ‘populations’ with an area of 8.6 hectares. Over six years, we examined 24 patches of A. purpureopetala, 21 with either population counts and measurement of patch area or estimates of these. We provide a morphological description of the species, notes on reproduction, an updated estimate of the total population, number of sub-populations and area occupied, and notes on site characteristics. The Purple-flowered Wattle is a small shrub with limited root development, sparse and diffuse flowering and seed set, and evidently limited capacity for seed dispersal. In 21 patches, we conservatively estimate there to be just over 7,000 adults in patches summing to 20.4 hectares. Patches occur in a diversity of landscape settings but consistently on harsh sites with a sparse grass layer, this and other evidence suggesting that the species is an obligate seeder intolerant of frequent fire. Infrequent disturbance such as grading of firebreaks and mining appears to have promoted establishment of individuals in some patches, but many patches lack any current or obvious historic disturbance. Purple-flowered Wattle is known from 16 sub-populations with an Extent of Occurrence of 634 km2. Notwithstanding the increased population estimate, Purple-flowered Wattle remains an extremely rare species whose conservation warrants high-level consideration.

Simon J. Gleed and Donald C. Franklin

Purple-flowered Wattle (Acacia purpureopetala): observations and surveys of a threatened plant found only in the Herberton-Irvinebank region

Gleed & Franklin 2018
bottom of page