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Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 141o 27.51' East  26o 16.66' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 121,784 ha
Altitude 83 - 94m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA has supported more than 1% of the global populations of the congregatory Plumed Whistling-Duck, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Australian Pelican, including one of the largest known colonies of pelican. The IBA also provides habitat for the near threatened Australian Bustard.

Site description The IBA is based on Lake Yamma Yamma on the Cooper Creek system in inland Queensland. It also includes the seasonal claypans on the margins and also the Barrolka Lakes to the north-east side, which have several cormorant colonies. The lake only holds water during floods of moderate or greater intensity on Cooper Creek. Lake Yamma Yamma at 87,000 ha is the largest inland ephemeral lake in Queensland. It is completely filled with water about once every 25 to 30 years or less, and was most recently filled to capacity in 2000. The waters of the lake are fresh when first inundated, but become progressively more saline as the lake dries out. The dry lake bed is formed of cracking grey clays that support an extensive low grassland dominated by Rat's Tail Couch. A variety of ephemeral forbs (e.g. Cooper's Clover, Solanum spp.), grasses (e.g. Echinochloa turnerana) and sedges (e.g. Cyperus spp.) grow amongst the couch following rain or brief inundation. The far north-eastern section of the lake, which receives seasonal inundation from Cooper Creek, supports low to open Lignum shrubland with scattered stands of open woodland dominated by Coolabah and River Cooba. A large colony of the Australian Pelican breeds on an island in the north-eastern part of the lake.

Key Biodiversity Species that may be described as abundant include Hardhead, Black-winged Stilt and Glossy Ibis (R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007). Grey Teal (10,970 birds), Black-tailed Native-hen (3052 birds), Australian Pratincole (1157 birds) and Whiskered Tern (3091 birds) were present in substantial but sub-threshold numbers in October 2000 (Barter and Harris 2002; M. Barter pers. comm. 2007). 4300 Pacific Black Duck were estimated in 2000 (Kingsford et al. 2003). One high count of 544 Freckled Duck in 2000, but otherwise small numbers e.g. 81 birds in October 1992 (Kingsford et al. 1991, 1993; Kingsford and Porter (2006); M. Barter pers. comm. 2007). White-winged Black Tern have been observed in flocks containing many hundreds of birds (R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007). Based on preliminary survey data and the extent of habitat available, the IBA is predicted to regularly support more than 20,000 waterbirds, although at times numbers could potentially exceed 100,000 waterbirds (R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007). The near threatened Letter-winged Kite has been recorded in the IBA (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Plumed Whistling-duck Dendrocygna eytoni resident  2000  20,890 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus resident  2000  10,000-20,000 breeding pairs  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis unknown  1998-2008  uncommon  A1  Least Concern 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata non-breeding  2000  2,329 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (unknown use) happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Other forests & woodlands  minor
Shrubland Other shrublands  major
Wetlands (inland) Ephemeral  major

Land ownership Grazing leasehold.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland major

Protection status None.

Acknowledgements Roger Jaensch and Mark Barter provided data and comments.

References Barter, M.A., & Harris, K. (2002). Occasional Count No. 6. Shorebird counts in the NE South Australia-SW Queensland region in September-October 2000. Stilt 41: 44-47.

DEWHA (2008) Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. Canberra: Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts accessed 2008.

Kingsford, R.T., Ferster Levy, R., Porter, J.L. (1993) An Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 1992. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 16. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

Kingsford, R. and Porter, J. (2006) Eastern Australian aerial survey database. Accessed 2008.

Kingsford, R.T., Porter, J. L., Ferster Levy, R., Smith, J.D.B. and Holland, P. (1991) An Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 1990. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 10. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

Kingsford, R.T., Porter, J.L., and Ahern, A.D. (2003) Aerial Surveys of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 2000-2002. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 33. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Hurstville.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Yamma Yamma. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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