Habitat and fauna of an endangered swamp ecosystem in Australia’s Eastern Highlands

Sarsha Gorissen*, Matthew Greenlees, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone are isolated pockets of moist habitat in the Blue Mountains region of Australia. Although endangered, few detailed studies have been conducted on their distinctive habitats and wildlife. We surveyed 10 swamps annually for 3 years to characterise conditions within swamps, surrounding woodland, and the transitional zone in between. Swamps were distinguished by waterlogged soil, a dense sedge understorey of live vegetation, and a virtual absence of trees, logs and rocks. In contrast, woodland had dry soil, a sparse understorey, many trees and logs, and much dead vegetation. The transitional zone was intermediate in these respects. Faunal species included 5 mammals (29 records), 17 reptiles (452 records) and 1 amphibian (13 records), with lizards comprising >90% of all faunal records. Paradoxically, the sole endangered vertebrate, the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) was the most abundant taxon we recorded: a habitat specialist found primarily within swamps (95% of records) and absent from woodland. Other Eulamprus species in the transitional zone (E. heatwolei) and woodland (E. quoyii) occurred at much lower densities. Because E. leuraensis is abundant within montane swamps but absent from surrounding habitats, any disturbance to swamps is likely to imperil populations of this endangered reptile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • conservation
  • endangered ecosystem
  • groundwater
  • lizard
  • mire
  • reptile
  • skink
  • threatened species


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