Sometimes, the more we learn about a Bush Heritage property, the more we realise just how little we know about Australia’s wild places.
That’s definitely true of Edgbaston Reserve, home to what scientists have called the most significant natural springs for global biodiversity in the entire Great Artesian Basin.
An artesian spring at Edgbaston containing untold natural treasures. Photo by Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.
Fed by water travelling hundreds of kilometres beneath a dry, arid environment, these isolated springs have given rise to the evolution of more than two dozen species found nowhere else on the planet.
Two nationally threatened fish – the red-finned blue-eye and Edgbaston goby – eleven types of snail, one small crustacean, one flatworm, one spider and a species of dragonfly reside exclusively in the spring-fed pools at Edgbaston.
The reserve’s flora is also exceptional. Recent surveys revealed three previously unknown plant species on the property, making Edgbaston home to 15 newly discovered plants, many yet to be named.
Spanning the Mitchell Grass Plains and Desert Uplands, Edgbaston protects 27 regional ecosystems, two listed as endangered and six as ‘of concern’.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
In addition to its endangered fish, Edgbaston protects a number of plant species that are found nowhere else in the world. Some of these are completely new to science, for example the endangered tall pipewort.
Edgbaston Reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
- Red-finned blue-eye (endangered fish)
- Edgbaston goby (vulnerable fish)
- Squatter pigeon
- Australian bustard
- Black-headed python
- Aloe pipewort (endangered)
- Blue devil (endangered)
- Regal bassia (vulnerable)
- Spring grass
- Artesian springs community (endangered)
- Spinifex hummock grassland
- Cane grass grassland
- Mitchell grass grassland
- Microcybe wattle shrubland
What we’re doing on the property
Ecologist Dr Adam Kerezsy in Edgbaston's artesian springs. Photo: Mick Brigden.
Work to control the invasive mosquito fish, which feeds on small fish and fish eggs, will help the survival of both the Edgbaston goby and the red-finned blue-eye.
Control of this noxious species will also help the endangered springs communities – which includes everything from snails to spiders and aquatic plants – from suffering further degradation.
Controlling feral pigs is another management priority at Edgbaston – feral pigs can trample and churn up a wetland spring in just one feeding session.
We are also working hard to restore and look after the Lake Mueller wetlands and springs basin. In flood this basin provides habitat for raptors, ducks, shorebirds, waders and large numbers of brolgas.
A fight for survival
The tiny red-finned blue-eye – one of Australia's smallest and most threatened freshwater fish. Photo by Gunther Schmida
In 1990 the Edgbaston Springs surprised the world when they revealed the presence of a tiny fish with blue eyes and a striking red fin – the nationally threatened red-finned blue-eye.
Found in just four small pools fed by underground aquifers on Bush Heritage's Edgbaston Reserve, the red-finned blue-eye is one of Australia's tiniest and most threatened freshwater fish.
Bush Heritage's Dr Adam Kerezsy has been busy protecting the red-finned blue-eye from its biggest threat, an invasive fish introduced into Australia in the 1930s in a failed attempt to control mosquitoes.
'We are now working to isolate each pool with barriers to prevent invasive mosquito fish, which prey on native fish, from entering the pools during times of flooding,' says Adam.
'We are also looking into effective techniques to remove the mosquito fish from key springs.'
Since its discovery five populations of the redfin blue-eye have been lost, but the fish has managed to colonise two more springs, bringing much needed hope for the survival of this species.
History and cultural values
A gate reveals the pastoral history of Edgbaston Reserve. Photo by Wayne Lawler/Ecopix
Little is known about the Aboriginal cultural heritage of Edgbaston but it is likely that the Lake Mueller wetlands and springs were and still are significant food and water sources.
To learn more about the reserve's Aboriginal heritage Bush Heritage will team up with local Indigenous people to carry out important survey and assessment work.
Edgbaston also has a pastoral history dating back well over 100 years, when the region was established as Aramac Station.
Edgbaston Reserve was acquired in 2008 with the assistance of the Australian Government and The Nature Conservancy. We would also like to acknowledge The Nature Conservancy's David Thomas Challenge and Desert Channels Queensland, through funding from the Australian Government's Caring for Our Country program, for their generous support of this work.