Northern Australia’s aquatic diversity revealed 


Water scorpions, brightly coloured spotted scats and freshwater sawfish are just some of the unique species featured in the most comprehensive book yet about northern Australia’s inland tapestry of aquatic habitats.

More than 30 researchers from the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge research hub contributed to the book, Aquatic Biodiversity in Northern Australia: patterns, threats and future, edited by TRaCK researcher Dr Bradley Pusey with several contributors from Charles Darwin University.

 “Northern Australia contains the world’s largest intact savanna ecosystem and the world’s greatest concentration of free-flowing rivers. It’s not surprising that this outstanding landscape, of global significance, holds such a rich and diverse biota,” Dr Pusey said.

“These environments also include enormous floodplains, forested wetlands, and 56 major river systems which discharge more than 60 per cent of Australia’s surface water run-off. The aquatic habitats of northern Australia hold a disproportionately large amount of Australia’s unique biodiversity.

“Today these habitats are highly valued, with the predominant regional industries including pastoral grazing, mining, Indigenous enterprises, fishing and tourism, all relying on the region’s water resources and aquatic biodiversity in different ways.”

Dr Pusey said despite the significance of the aquatic biodiversity of northern Australian, it faces threats including pollution from abandoned mines and the spread of invasive species such as mimosa, rubber vine and feral pigs.

 “If there is one lesson we have learnt from drawing together this research, it is that current threats to freshwater ecosystems should be addressed before it is too late, not least because this is the most cost-effective approach,” Dr Pusey said.

The book is available for sale online at