|Central coordinates||141o 30.37' East 36o 33.40' South|
|Altitude||100 - 220m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The IBA supports populations of the vulnerable Malleefowl and the near threatened Diamond Firetail.
Site description The IBA is nearly identical to Little Desert National Park, which is situated 375 km north-west of Melbourne. The IBA also includes a contiguous area of uncleared native vegetation outside of the park, east of the Wimmera River. The park is one of three IBAs in western Victoria (the others being Wyperfeld, Big Desert & Ngarkat, and Murray-Sunset, which lie farther north), which are designed to capture large areas of contiguous and comparatively undisturbed mallee habitat. The park is situated on sandy soils of low natural fertility (named Lowan Sands), which support a range of vegetation associations including heathlands, mallee woodlands and shrublands (including mallee-broombush communities), Yellow Gum communities, Black Box and Desert Stringybark woodlands, and open forest. Little Desert NP experiences a warm, dry climate; at the nearby township of Nhill, mean maximum temperatures range from 13.7 Celsius in July to 29.7 Celsius in January and mean annual rainfall is about 410 mm.
Key Biodiversity At least 229 species of bird have been recorded in Little Desert National Park. This includes small numbers of the following IBA species: Bush Stone-curlew, Flame Robin, Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Painted Honeyeater and Black Honeyeater, which are not believed to occur in significant numbers. It also supports the following subspecies listed as threatened by Garnett and Crowley (2000): Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus victoriae), Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina ashbyi), Black-chinned Honeyeater (Melithreptus gularis gularis), Slender-billed Thornbill (Acanthiza iredalei hedleyi), Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata cucullate), Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) and Barking Owl (Ninox connivens connivens). The park also supports regionally significant populations of Rufous Fieldwren, Shy Heathwren, Southern Scrub-robin and Gilbert's Whistler. The near threatened Australian Bustard is another regionally significant species, which has occasionally been recorded in the IBA (Little Desert NP lies at the southern limit of the bustard's documented range).
Non-bird biodiversity: More than 280 native fauna species have been recorded in Little Desert National Park. Notable mammals include Silky Mouse, Western Pygmy Possum and Fat-tailed Dunnart. Little Desert NP represents the south-eastern limit of the Western Bluetongue (Tiliqua occipitalis) and Bardick (Echiopsis curda), and supports an isolated population of Delicate Skink (Lampropholis delicata).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata||resident||-||10-20 breeding pairs||good||A1||Vulnerable|
|Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata||resident||1998-2008||uncommon||-||A1||Least Concern|
|2008||high||not assessed||not assessed|
|Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data|
|Climate change and severe weather||drought||happening now||whole area/population (>90%)||slow but significant deterioration||high|
|Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases||invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species||happening now||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Natural system modifications||fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity||happening now||whole area/population (>90%)||slow but significant deterioration||high|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Little Desert||National Park||132,647||protected area contained by site||132,647|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Eucalypt low open forests||major|
|Shrubland||Chenopod shrubs, samphire shrubs and forblands; Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands; Mallee shrublands & woodlands||major|
Land ownership Victorian State Government with management by Parks Victoria.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Protection status Little Desert National Park.
Access/Land-Owner requests Public access is available to the park.
Acknowledgements The nomination was written by Tim Dolby assisted by:- Friends of Little Desert National Park: contact Parks Victoria Ranger Malcolm Pye (03) 5389 0200 and Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group, Joe Benshemesh.
References Barrett, G., Silcocks, A., Barry, S., Cunningham, R. and Poulter, R. (2003) The new atlas of Australian birds. Melbourne: Birds Australia.
Benshemesh, J. (1995) Monitoring malleefowl in north-west Victoria: 1994 - 95. Mildura, Victoria: Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Benshemesh, J. (2005) National recovery plan for Malleefowl 2006-2010. Adelaide: Department for Environment and Heritage.
DCNR (1995) Threatened fauna in Victoria. Melbourne: Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
DNRE (1996) Little Desert National Park management plan. Melbourne: Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Garnett, S.T. and Crowley G.M. (2000) The action plan for Australian birds 2000. Canberra: Environment Australia.
Jones, D., McLean, A.J. and Grant, S. (2006) The Malleefowl of Little Desert. Two decades of observations by Raymond (Whimpey) Reichelt OAM. A report for Little Desert Flora and Fauna Foundation Inc. Queensland: Suburban Wildlife Research Group, Australian School of Environmental Studies, Griffith University.
Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J., eds (1993) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Volume 2: raptors to lapwings. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Little Desert. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/08/2015
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