Springs are unique freshwater ecosystems that are often overlooked in discussions of global freshwater ecology and conservation. Springs that emerge from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) in Australia support a high diversity of endemic aquatic species. Most of these species have a high risk of extinction due to their small geographic distributions and severe habitat loss. However, many are poorly understood and unprotected. They are mostly invertebrates for which basic taxonomic and ecological information is lacking and global impetus for conservation is weak.
Quantifying the hydro-ecological processes that shape and sustain the unique biotic assemblages of discharge spring wetlands of the GAB, and predicting how endemic springs taxa will respond to threatening processes, will help us prioritise our conservation actions for this huge suite of species. In this talk I will give a crash course in the biodiversity of invertebrates in GAB springs, discuss our current understanding of threats to their persistence, and briefly propose a functional approach to predicting their risks of extinction.