|Location||Australia, Northern Territory|
|Central coordinates||135o 38.90' East 18o 49.02' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3, A4i, A4ii|
|Altitude||200 - 212m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Summary The IBA has supported small breeding colonies of the near threatened Letter-winged Kite and more than 1% of the global populations of the congregatory Plumed Whistling-Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead, Little Black Cormorant, Australian Pelican, Straw-necked Ibis, Eurasion Coot, Oriental Plover, Gull-billed Tern and Flock Bronzewing. The IBA also provides habitat for the near threatened Australian Bustard. The IBA is an ephemeral wetland system, and holds significant numbers of waterbirds only when inundated. When fully inundated, the IBA may support 500,000 to 1,000,000 waterbirds.
Site description The large ephemeral Lake Sylvester system is located on the Barkly Tableland 180 km north-east of Tennant Creek. The IBA comprises of Corella Lake, Lake de Burgh, Lake Sylvester, an unnamed basin to the west of Corella Lake, and a surrounding network of interconnected wetlands. It includes two semi-permanent freshwater billabongs, Corella Hole and Big Hole, which are located upstream from the deltas that mark the meeting points of Corella Creek and Corella Lake and Brunette Creek and Lake Sylvester, respectively. Corella Lake, Lake de Burgh and Lake Sylvester are ephemeral freshwater lakes. They are seasonally inundated, but can retain water for more than 12 consecutive months after substantial floods. At normal capacity, Corella Lake (10,000 ha), Lake de Burgh (30,000 ha) and Lake Sylvester (15,000 ha) are discrete water bodies. In wetter years, excess water from Corella Lake flows into the unnamed basin to the west (5000 ha), and all four basins can become full and connected. During exceptional flood events, such as that which occurred in 2001-2002, all water bodies present in the system can merge to form a single massive lake with an area of up to 200,000 ha. The Lake Sylvester system is situated on deep-cracking grey clay that supports sparse to open shrublands dominated by Northern Bluebush and Lignum, sparse to open woodlands and scattered specimens of Coolibah, stands of Belalie, tussock grasslands dominated by Rat's Tail Couch and Pepper Grass, carpet-like patches of Annual Verbine, and mats of the aquatic species Nardoo, Spiny Mudgrass and (infrequently) Potamogeton tricarinatus and Myriophyllum verrucosum (DEWHA 2007; R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Plumed Whistling-duck Dendrocygna eytoni||resident||1993||15,000-26,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Grey Teal Anas gracilis||resident||2002||60,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Hardhead Aythya australis||resident||2002||14,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis||resident||1995||13,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus||resident||2001-2002||7,700 breeding pairs||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris||resident||2002||17,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Letter-winged Kite Elanus scriptus||resident||-||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A1, A3||Near Threatened|
|Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis||unknown||1998-2008||frequent [units unknown]||-||A1||Least Concern|
|Common Coot Fulica atra||resident||2002||160,000 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus||non-breeding||1993||1,034 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica||resident||1995||8,720 individuals||medium||A4i||Least Concern|
|Flock Bronzewing Phaps histrionica||unknown||1993||100,000 individuals||medium||A4ii||Least Concern|
|A4iii Species group - waterbirds||-||-||-||-|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Savanna||Acacia open woodlands; Eucalypt open woodlands||major|
|Shrubland||Chenopod shrubs, samphire shrubs and forblands; Other shrublands||major|
Land ownership Pastoral lease (Brunette Downs) managed by Australian Agricultural Company.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity The Lake Sylvester system supports two plant species, Bergia barklyana and Goodenia cylindrocarpa, which are endemic to the Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion (Harrison et al. 2009). A number of plant and vertebrate species recorded in the system are largely confined to cracking-clay grasslands within the Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion (Fisher et al. 2002). Four plant species present in the system (Commelina tricarinata, Senecio depressicola, Iotasperma sessilifolium and Urochloa atrisola) have a restricted range within the Northern Territory (Harrison et al. 2009).
Protection status None.
Access/Land-Owner requests Access can be arranged by contact with Brunette Downs station.
Acknowledgements Roger Jaensch of Wetlands International provided review comments and interpretation on the habitat and waterbird information.
References Bamford, M., Watkins, D., Bancroft, W., Tischler, G. and Wahl, J. (2008) Shorebirds of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway: population estimates and internationally important sites. Canberra: Wetlands International - Oceania.
DEWHA (2007) A directory of important wetlands in Australia. Lake Corella - NT009. http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/environmental/wetlands/database/ accessed on 6 September 2007. Fisher, A., Baker, B. and Woinarski, J. (2002) Biodiversity audit - bioregional case study: Mitchell Grass Downs, Northern Territory. In J. Woinarski, ed. Biodiversity audit - bioregional summary. Report to the National Land and Water Audit. Darwin: Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. Harrison, L., McGuire, L., Ward, S. Fisher, A., Pavey, C., Fegan, M. and Lynch, B. (2009) An inventory of sites of international and national significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts & Sport, Darwin, NT. Jaensch, R.P. (2003) Recent records and breeding of the Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis in the Mitchell Grass Downs and Sturt Plateau, Northern Territory. Northern Territory Naturalist 17: 31-37. Jaensch, R.P. and Bellchambers, K. (1997) Waterbird conservation values of ephemeral wetlands of the Barkly Tablelands, Northern Territory. Unpublished report to the Australian Heritage Commission and Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. NRETA (2005) Draft Northern Territory parks and conservation masterplan. Darwin: Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts. Ward, S. and Harrison, L. (2009) Recognising sites of conservation significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts & Sport, Darwin, NT.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Sylvester System. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/03/2014
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