Lake Yamma Yamma

Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 121,784 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2008 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The IBA is based on Lake Yamma Yamma on the Cooper Creek system in inland Queensland. It also includes the seasonal claypans on the margins and also the Barrolka Lakes to the north-east side, which have several cormorant colonies. The lake only holds water during floods of moderate or greater intensity on Cooper Creek. Lake Yamma Yamma at 87,000 ha is the largest inland ephemeral lake in Queensland. It is completely filled with water about once every 25 to 30 years or less, and was most recently filled to capacity in 2000. The waters of the lake are fresh when first inundated, but become progressively more saline as the lake dries out. The dry lake bed is formed of cracking grey clays that support an extensive low grassland dominated by Rat's Tail Couch. A variety of ephemeral forbs (e.g. Cooper's Clover, Solanum spp.), grasses (e.g. Echinochloa turnerana) and sedges (e.g. Cyperus spp.) grow amongst the couch following rain or brief inundation. The far north-eastern section of the lake, which receives seasonal inundation from Cooper Creek, supports low to open Lignum shrubland with scattered stands of open woodland dominated by Coolabah and River Cooba. A large colony of the Australian Pelican breeds on an island in the north-eastern part of the lake.

Key biodiversity
Species that may be described as abundant include Hardhead, Black-winged Stilt and Glossy Ibis (R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007). Grey Teal (10,970 birds), Black-tailed Native-hen (3052 birds), Australian Pratincole (1157 birds) and Whiskered Tern (3091 birds) were present in substantial but sub-threshold numbers in October 2000 (Barter and Harris 2002; M. Barter pers. comm. 2007). 4300 Pacific Black Duck were estimated in 2000 (Kingsford et al. 2003). One high count of 544 Freckled Duck in 2000, but otherwise small numbers e.g. 81 birds in October 1992 (Kingsford et al. 1991, 1993; Kingsford and Porter (2006); M. Barter pers. comm. 2007). White-winged Black Tern have been observed in flocks containing many hundreds of birds (R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007). Based on preliminary survey data and the extent of habitat available, the IBA is predicted to regularly support more than 20,000 waterbirds, although at times numbers could potentially exceed 100,000 waterbirds (R. Jaensch pers. comm. 2007). The near threatened Letter-winged Kite has been recorded in the IBA (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Yamma Yamma. Downloaded from on 09/07/2020.