Australian Society for Fish Biology, Victor Harbour, Australia, August 1992.

Artesian springs, a neglected aquatic habitat.

P.J. Unmack

Inland Australia contains around 600 artesian springs or springs groups which are found in northern South Australia, north-western New South Wales and western and central Queensland. The Dalhousie group and some of the Carnarvon group are the only artesian springs within national parks. All of the remaining springs are on pastoral land and many have been modified with a resultant loss of flora and fauna. Some of the South Australian springs have been fenced off recently, the rest are all prone to the effects of cattle grazing and feral animals. Many springs now have a reduced flow due to the lowering of water pressure in the Great Artesian Basin with some springs having become extinct. Many endemic species of crustacea and fish occur in artesian springs with many being considered endangered because of threats to their habitat and restricted distributions. The three known native fish which are endemic to springs in Queensland will be discussed. The Elizabeth Springs goby (Chlamydogobius sp.) is under threat from cattle grazing and reduced water flows and the Edgbaston goby (Chlamydogobius sp.) and red finned blue-eye (Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis) are threatened by introduced gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) and sheep. Management and conservation strategies for each species are discussed.