Jack Lakes is one of the most extensive wetland systems on South-eastern Cape York Peninsula. Biodiversity surveys of Jack Lakes were conducted by CYMAG scientists, Queensland Parks & Wildlife (QPW) and flora and fauna consultants at the end of the dry season (November 2007) and the end of the wet season (June 2008). The major objectives of the survey were to assess biodiversity through fauna and flora surveys, to identify threats to the biodiversity and to provide recommendations for the future management of Jack Lakes.
Two hundred and forty three native species were recorded comprising 63 plants, 17 fish, 8 amphibians, 17 reptiles, 117 birds and 21 mammals. Three of these - the Bare-rumped Sheathtail Bat (Saccolaimus saccolaimus nudicluniatus), Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and Grey Goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae) - are listed as threatened species in Queensland. Some groups appear to be diverse (e.g. Diptera invertebrates), some appear low in diversity (e.g. migratory wading birds) and others require more intensive sampling (ie aquatic plants, fish, small mammals). A shift in species composition and abundance was observed from November to June.
Feral pigs (Sus scrofa) were identified as representing the biggest threat to the biodiversity of Jack Lakes through direct predation, habitat modification and habitat degradation. The impacts on the wetland were greater at the end of the dry season when resources were scarce. Cattle were also observed to impact on wetland condition.
Recommendations for management include implementing a pest management plan, preventing the introduction of weeds through a vehicle wash-down program and cattle quarantine period, limiting cattle access to the wetlands, regulating visitor numbers and supporting the development of smallscale tourism operations by Traditional Owners.